The Act requires employers to publish information as to rates of pay for employees with reference to their gender. The aim is to uncover if there are differences in pay, and the size of any differences. Employers must publish statements explaining the reason for different rates of pay, and any measures taken to eliminate a pay gap.
The pay gap is a broader issue than equal pay for equal work, which is already covered by equality legislation. Reporting will clearly disclose any issues with regards to inequality of pay, and will leave an employer exposed to claims. But it goes further, in showing up instances where one gender is holding the majority of the senior roles, or the converse. It will also demonstrate where one gender is predominantly making use of family-friendly initiatives or where availing of flexible working does not reach senior levels.
In order to avoid poor publicity, employers must take steps to ensure equal opportunities in hiring at all levels as well as equal access to promotional opportunities, and equal access to flexible work.
The legislation will initially apply to all employers with more than 250 employees and will eventually apply to those with greater than 50 employees. It includes public bodies. Failure to comply can result in an application by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the Circuit or High Court to compel compliance, or an application from an employee for an investigation by the Workplace Relations Commission.
Reporting must include:
- remuneration rates of male and female employees.
- Benefit in kind received by male and female employees.
- Bonuses received by male and female employees.
- Percentage difference in mean and median rates of pay between male and female employees.
- The number of male and female employees across in each pay band.
- Information on the type of contacts (fixed- term, part-time, flexible working etc).
- Numbers of males and females employed at different levels of seniority.
- Reasons for pay differences and differences in seniority gaps.
- Measures taken to eliminate or reduce the gap.
The legislation has been enacted but not yet commenced so it is not clear to which body reporting must be made, but given the objective of the legislation it appears that there will be a requirement to publish the reporting information in annual reports and on the Website. It is expected that reporting will be required by 2022.
In order to prepare for reporting, employers should ensure their systems allow for obtaining this data in a clear manner. This may involve gathering information on contract types and pay in a central location. Employers may choose to be proactive in identifying any gap early by internal audit, and adopting measures to address any issues. This will make reporting figures less stark, when reporting is required. If major gaps are identified, it seems that reputational management may be necessary.
The above is provided for information purposes and is not intended as legal advice. We, at Fitzsimons Redmond, would be happy to discuss with you your obligations in respect of the reporting requirements. Please contact us on 01-676 3257.
By Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty
Solicitor at Fitzsimons Redmond