New Measures Needed to Tackle Gender Pay Gap

7 Mar 2017

Delegates  and Banner at ICTU Joint Women's Committee Seminar Delegates and Banner at ICTU Joint Women's Committee Seminar (Pic Paula Geraghty)

Congress has called for a “series of new, concrete measures” to tackle the ongoing gender pay gap, after new figures showed Ireland sits just ahead of the EU 28 in overall earnings for women and has failed to make major progress on closing the pay gap over the recent years.

Among the measures called for by Congress are: to make pay gap reporting compulsory for large employers, introduce mandatory action plans to close the gap and sanctions for those who refuse to comply.

The figures feature in a new report from the EU Commission (2017 Report on Equality between Men and Women) which looked at the ‘overall earnings gender cap’ a composite measure that includes: average hourly earnings, the average number of paid work per month and employment rate.

This shows Ireland at 36.8%, slightly ahead of the EU 28 average of 39.7%. However, the report also listed Ireland among a number of countries that have seen little progress since 2010.

Congress Equality Officer said the report showed that “Ireland has some way to go if we want to achieve the core objective of Equal Pay for Equal Work, first articulated by trade unions over five decades ago. As we mark International Women’s Day is it hardly a cause for celebration to note that at this rate of progress it will take another century to close the overall gender earnings gap across Europe.”

“But even this masks a deeper problem in areas like pension provision, where the gap between male and female workers here in Ireland is almost double the EU average

“Clearly we need a series of specific, concrete measure to tackle the problem in Ireland. These include making gender pay gap reporting compulsory for large employers, something which is due to happen in the UK in 2018.

“In addition, employers should also have to publish an action plan for narrowing the pay gap in their workplace – with proper sanctions for those who refuse to publish this information," he said.

Congress has also backed a new EU-wide pay rise campaign organised by the European Trade Union Confederation – Europe Needs a Pay Rise – that is calling for action on the gender pay gap, pointing out that on average women in Europe earn 17% less than men.