News & Media

Government Should Consult Labour Bill When Drafting Amendments to Pay Gap Legislation

31 March 2021

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration

The Labour Party’s Equality Spokesperson, Senator Ivana Bacik has welcomed an announcement from the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality & Integration that he will bring forward amendments to strengthen the Government’s Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 when it comes before the Dáil for Report Stage. She has called on him to adopt elements of the Labour Party’s Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017 to ensure that measures to tackle Ireland’s gender pay gap of 14.4% are truly impactful.

Senator Bacik said:

“I am relieved to hear today’s news that Minister O’Gorman intends to strengthen the Government’s Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019, namely by addressing enforcement issues in the Bill, as well as reducing the current review period of the legislation from five years to four.

“In 2018, my Bill to tackle the gender pay gap – the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017 - passed through all stages in the Seanad and through Second Stage in the Dáil with strong support from across both Houses, including from Minister O’Gorman’s colleagues in the Green Party. The previous government failed to progress this Bill further, choosing instead to introduce its own, weaker legislation. The Government’s Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 is currently much less ambitious than our Labour Bill, which would have compelled any organisation with more than fifty employees to publish gender pay gap data, as well as introducing a substantial fine for those which did not take remedial action to meet their obligations under the legislation.

“While it is regrettable that the Government at the time did simply support our Labour Bill, it is encouraging to hear this Government taking the gender pay gap seriously and that Minister O’Gorman intends to amend the Bill shortly after the Easter recess. Ireland’s gender pay gap of 14.4% effectively means women work for free from the 9th November each year. Put another way, women stop getting paid at around 4pm every day. This continued discrimination against women in the workplace must be meaningfully addressed without delay.  

“Labour will work constructively with the Government to ensure that this long-awaited legislation is swiftly enacted. I would ask Minister O’Gorman to engage with us and to adopt some of the principles of Labour's Bill to ensure that this new legislation is truly impactful. We have already had positive engagement with the Government this term on Labour’s Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Naturalisation of Minors Born in Ireland) Bill and on Coco’s Law, so I hope that we will be able to work together yet again to bring about change in the area of workplace equality.

“Ireland has made significant strides towards achieving gender equality in the workplace, but there is still some distance to go. Legislation to tackle the pay gap, increased workplace flexibility, a universal public childcare scheme, targeted measures to tackle low pay and union density, strengthened collective bargaining rights, and the introduction of statutory sick pay and reproductive health related leave are all essential parts of the package of supports needed to support women at work.”