Sunday, November 20, 2022

Muireann Duffy

New legislation requiring organisations to publish information relating to their gender pay gap will likely illustrate the “under-valuing of work that is done by women”, according to Siptu.

The trade union’s deputy general secretary Ethel Buckley told Breakingnews.ie that pay-transparency is “one of the tools that will be effective in reducing the gender pay gap”.

Under the Pay Gap Information Act 2021, organisations employing over 250 people were required to take a ‘snapshot’ of their business earlier this year, collecting figures relating to pay and representation broken down by gender.

In December, the relevant public and private organisations will publish their respective figures, which must include the mean and medium hourly remuneration of men in the company compared to women, covering both full-time and part-time workers.

The Act also covers bonus remuneration and benefits-in-kind, and the percentage of men versus women who received these types of rewards.

While Ms Buckley said there are some shortcomings in the legislation, she believes it will nonetheless “shine a light” on organisations which need to work on reducing their gender pay gap.

Collective bargaining

During the drafting stages of the Act, Siptu had sought the inclusion of a role for trade unions and worker representatives, as “the most effective tool” in reducing the gap is the collective bargaining of women’s wages, Ms Buckley explained.

“That’s why, when the gender audits come out, it’s most likely that we will see a far higher gap in the private sector than in the public sector.

“That will be down to the lack of unionisation in the private sector and the high degree of unionisation and collective bargaining in the public sector, because collective bargaining equalises workers wages,” she added.

The reported figures must also show the percentage of male and females workers in the organisation across four remuneration bands: “What you tend to see in organisations is the work that women do is more likely to be lower paid than the work that men tend to do.

“What we really need to do is evaluate categories of work within organisations, and that over the next number of years will be the game-changer for employers equalising pay,” Ms Buckley said.

She added these evaluations must also factor in part-time and remote workers, who are more often times women.

Ms Buckley said these workers “do not see the same outcomes in career progression” as their full-time colleagues who are in the workplace on a more regular basis, and this, as a knock-on effect, can again widen the gender pay gap.

We won’t know until December how difficult this information will be to find

As to whether organisations have shown enough will to reduce their gender pay gap to date, Ms Buckley explained Siptu campaigned for this mandatory reporting because the union felt a statutory obligation was needed in order achieve the necessary changes.

While Ms Buckley believes the legislation will “contribute to improving the situation for working women in the country”, she said Siptu will be keeping a close eye on how it is implemented, including the role of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) which will have the power to bring to court organisations which fail to publish their annual figures.

In the meantime, she stressed the importance of a centralised reporting database being established to allow for easy access and examination of the figures.

While she sayid the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has committed to creating such a tool, for now, the figures will be published on the organisation’s own website.

“We won’t know until December how difficult this information will be to find.

“Some websites are really easy to navigate and find information, but if you had information that you wanted to make difficult to find, you could do that too,” she cautioned.

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