Equal Pay for Equal Work

Nóra Cashe

September 18 2023

First published: September 18th 2023
Last updated: September 18th 2023

The 18th of September is International Equal Pay Day 2023.

While equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in Irish law since the 1970s, Ireland’s gender pay gap remains persistent.

A recent study of last year’s gender pay gap reports revealed that 87% of Irish employers pay men more than women.

The gender pay gap also remains high in countries around the world and International Equal Pay Day 2023 recognises all efforts towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value.

Recent gender equality developments

More recently, the Irish government has introduced gender pay gap reporting to achieve greater pay parity between the sexes.

The obligation to report initially applies to companies with over 250 employees but will apply to all organisations with more than 50 employees in the coming years.

According to the latest figures available, Ireland’s national gender pay gap is 9.9% meaning that women earn 91 cents for each €1 earned by a man on average.

And it's not just Ireland that’s affected by unequal pay, across the globe the gender pay gap is estimated at around 20%. So, it’s clear there's still work to be done not just in Ireland but around the world.

Equal pay for work of equal value

In Ireland, men and women are legally required to get equal pay for work that is considered "equal" in terms of similarity, equivalence, or value.

This means you can’t pay an employee less compared to another employee of the opposite sex who is doing work of equal value for you, or you could face an equal pay claim in the Workplace Relations Commission.

Protect your business against equal pay claims

Equal pay law is covered under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 -2015 and the Equality and Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) statutory code of practice but it’s not just pay that the law applies to.

Under the law, you’re required to pay employees doing like work equal ‘remuneration’ which is defined widely and includes payments like allowances, bonuses, performance payments, and non-cash benefits such as cars and mobile phones.

So, how can you make sure you pay your staff equally and fairly?

To reduce your risk of unequal pay, it’s best practice to:

  • Have an equal pay policy in place to protect your people and your business.
  • Establish fair pay scales or pay grades for each of your roles based on the position, level of responsibility, and experience.
  • Promote pay transparency to build trust and help close the gender pay gap.

And equal pay isn’t just important for legal reasons…

Paying staff equally in your business can improve your reputation, increase staff motivation and productivity, and form a key part of your social responsibility and culture—two very important things for job seekers, making your company more attractive.

Remember, ignoring important employee rights like equal pay has risks for your business…

If one of your employees feels they’re not getting equal pay, they may be able to take legal action against you.

They could make a claim to the WRC for equal pay or make a claim for sex discrimination, so it’s best to prevent a claim rather than have to defend it.

Expert HR advice on equal pay

Get expert advice on International Equal Pay Day about how to protect your business against the risk of discrimination claims.

Call us now on 1800 719 216 for instant advice.

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