Gender pay gap reporting legislation drawing closer
CIPD Ireland event hears Gender Pay Gap Information Bill expected to become law in Autumn 2019
CIPD Ireland’s July event on diversity and the gender pay gap heard that the date for compliance with gender pay gap reporting legislation is drawing closer.
Oonagh Buckley, Deputy Secretary General at the Department of Justice and Equality spoke about the broad value of legislation to address the gender pay gap (GPG) in Irish workplaces. She argued that it’s about making sure employers are tapping into the full talent pool, improving diversity across the company, stopping groupthink – 'it’s about making business better, as much as it is about equality'. While government can take certain measures, change has to happen at company level.
Addressing the event hosted at UCD for CIPD members, entitled ‘Diversity and Gender Pay Gap’ where the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 was up for discussion, Mary Connaughton shared the CIPD’s HR Practices 2019 survey findings that only 30% of companies have calculated a gender pay gap, and that CIPD members support legislation in this area. The findings show that members believe large companies should have to report on average gaps in pay and bonuses between men and women and provide an explanation and the actions to be taken.
Oonagh Buckley also covered the breadth of approaches to gender pay gap reporting across Europe, where Ireland is a laggard in terms of legislation, though its average of 13.9% is less than the EU average of 16.6%.
Delegates at the event also heard that the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 will probably be enacted in the Autumn, once it gets approval in the Oireachtas after the Summer recess, where there appeared to be broad support for the proposals. Companies could expect to have several months once the legislation is enacted, before they are expected to comply.
John Hurley, a senior official at the Department of Justice and Equality directly involved in drafting the legislation noted the consultations that the Department of Justice and Equality had held to this point. It is expected that in time the legislation will cover companies with over 50 employees, covering about 65% of employees nationally, 57% of private sector employees and 99% of public sector employees. He emphasised that there are still issues of detail and definition to be settled in implementing the regulations. These would also be the subject of further consultations, to help ensure people are ready when the reporting period starts.
Mary Connaughton, Director of CIPD Ireland, said 'We were delighted to have Oonagh and John with us today to meet our members face to face and take questions about this crucial legislation. It’s important to us that our members have their concerns heard. We welcome the fact that work is ongoing in a number of areas on which we’ve raised concerns and look forward to working with the government on the introduction of the new system'.
One of the concerns raised by CIPD Ireland centres on how and where companies will submit their reports once they’ve been compiled. The event heard that it is expected that a central website will be made available for report submissions, while companies could also be required to put the information on their own websites.
Policy Advisor with the CIPD in the UK, Charles Cotton, also outlined how the system has been progressing there, in the two years since legislation was introduced. He talked about the level of confusion in presenting the median and percentiles, and the range of audiences who will watching out for a company’s report.
Tristan Aiken, HR Director of UCD, winners of the 2019 CIPD HR Awards for both Diversity and Inclusion and HR Team of the year, and host for the event, talked about UCD’s HR transformation journey and the way in which it integrates diversity and inclusion into the culture.
Mary Connaughton concluded with the learning that the HR profession needs to take on board, to be able to easily explain to senior managers and employees how the gender pay gap differs from equal pay, how it is to be calculated, and positively impact the work in their organisations.
To note: as a support, members can review the CIPD’s Guide on gender pay gap reporting, as the Irish Government’s approach is broadly similar to the UK approach