The recent passing of the Gender Pay Gap Information Act, 2021, will make gender pay gap (GPG) reporting mandatory for all public and private sector organisations, initially for those employing 250 or more employees, extending to organisations with 50 to 250 employees over the coming years.
The purpose of GDP is to promote diversity and inclusion in workforces through identifying three types of gaps: like-for-like gaps, the gaps between women and men undertaking work of equal or comparable value; by-level gaps, the gaps between women and men at the same organisational levels and, organisation-wide gaps, the difference between the average remuneration of women and men across the whole organisation.
While reporting guidelines have not yet been published by Government, the gender pay gap reporting model proposed in Ireland is similar to that being used in the UK, where many organisations have found both the calculation of their GPG and its subsequent communication to be complex and difficult.
Against this background and to give companies an appreciation of the requirements of GPG reporting, Shannon Chamber linked up with one of Ireland’s leading professional services firms, Mazars, to host a virtual roundtable on the topic.
With reporting expected to commence in 2022, on 2021 data, the key message imparted by the roundtable speakers, Dera McLoughlin, partner, head of consulting, Mazars and Yvonne McNulty, director, HR consulting, Mazars, was that companies need to start preparing now for GPG reporting even though it is not scheduled to come into force until 2022.
“The type and level of data required are complex, so it makes sense for companies to start gathering it over the remaining months of 2021 and do a trial run to see the outcome. The benefits will extend far beyond the need to report. Companies that display diversity and inclusiveness are more attractive as an employer. It helps recruitment and retention and, as GPG data will be published, it will enable employees to benchmark the gaps between organisations,” stated Ms McLoughlin.
GPG reporting in Ireland will require companies to report four sets of information: the difference between the mean and median gap in hourly pay, bonus pay, and part-time pay of male and female employees; the proportions of male and female employees who were paid bonus pay and benefits in kind; the reasons for any gender pay gaps; and the measures that the employer is taking to eliminate or reduce any GPG.
Stating that the average GPG in Ireland currently stands at 11.3%, down from 14.4% in 2017, which compares favourably with our EU counterparts – UK at 20.8% and France at 15.4% – Ms McLoughlin said that GPG figures in the UK had highlighted widespread inequality across British businesses as almost every industry and sector continue to pay men more than women.
“Four out of five companies pay men more than women and, in nine out of 17 sectors in the UK economy, men earn 10 per cent or more on average than women. According to figures, between 2019 and 2020, the gender pay gap narrowed by only 1.9% nationally but has grown in most sectors including in health and social work, finance and insurance and the public sector and, the impact of COVID-19 may make things worse,” added Ms McLoughlin.
Advising companies here in Ireland to learn from the UK experience by starting early and allowing time to prepare their GPG data to ensure that is available and accurate, Ms McLoughlin said that the importance of understanding the drivers of an organisation’s pay gap is critical and that equal pay concerns need to be addressed.
Focusing on the need to collect this data and provide a narrative on its outcome, Yvonne McNulty, director of HR consulting with Mazars added: “It helps readers to understand why a gender pay gap is present and signals a commitment to closing the gap. Demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusion impacts positively on a company’s brand and reputation and shows that actions to close the gender pay gap are being taken.”
Welcoming this in-depth overview of GPG reporting ahead of it becoming enforceable, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said that reporting of this nature will allow companies to put manners on something that has been an issue for years and encourage them to get it right as employers.
“Executing a strategy to promote the work they are doing on diversity and inclusion can act as a valuable asset in recruitment and retention. The power of published GPG data, when enforced, will highlight companies that execute best practice. People will get smart about who they want to work with,” Ms Downes added.
This virtual roundtable was one of a series of events Shannon Chamber is organising in association with Mazars. Further information of all Chamber events can be found at www.shannonchamber.ie/events-training/