News & Media

Council of Europe finding underlines urgent need to tackle gender pay gap

30 June 2020

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

Following yesterday’s finding by the Council of Europe European Committee of Social Rights that Ireland is in violation of the European Social Charter on women’s rights to equality at work, Labour Seanad Leader Ivana Bacik has called on the new Government to legislate urgently to close the gender pay gap.

Senator Bacik said:

“It is disappointing, although not surprising, to see this Council of Europe finding on Ireland’s efforts to close the gender pay gap. In 2018, a Bill to tackle the gender pay gap that I had proposed with my Labour colleagues passed through all stages in the Seanad and through Second Stage in the Dáil with strong support from across both Houses. Despite this, the previous government failed to progress it and instead chose to introduce its own weaker legislation, which has now lapsed.

“The Council of Europe has pointed out that Ireland has not provided adequate data on comparative earnings of Irish women and men; and that this is hampering efforts to tackle workplace gender discrimination. The most recent statistics provided by Ireland relate to 2014 – when it was shown that the hourly gender pay gap was 13.9% - meaning that Irish women work for free for around one month each year.

“A commitment has been made by the incoming government to introduce legislation requiring the publication of gender pay gap data in large companies. This is welcome, but much less ambitious than my own Bill, which would have compelled any organisation with more than 50 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.

“Ireland has made significant strides towards achieving gender equality, but we have some distance still to go. The government must prioritise brining forward legislation to tackle our gender pay gap, in order to demonstrate its commitment to gender equality and to comply with its obligations under the European Social Charter.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The ‘gender pay gap’ is the term used to describe the difference between the pay of women and men, calculated based on the average difference in gross hourly earnings.

The Labour Party’s Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017 passed all stages in the Seanad by 3rd October 2018; it passed Second Stage in the Dáil and was referred to Committee Stage there in November 2018. It was then overtaken by the Government-sponsored Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019, which passed Second Stage and completed Select Committee Stage in 2019, before lapsing with the dissolution of the last Dáil.