Monday, 8 March 2021
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I welcome the Minister to the House and I wish him a happy International Women's Day. On this day, the Labour Party Senators have asked the Minister to give us a proposed timeline for the introduction of gender pay gap legislation. We are all only too well aware of how urgent this is.Every year, 9 November marks Equal Pay Day, which recognises that Ireland’s gender pay gap of 14.4% effectively means women work for free for the rest of the year. To put it another way, women stop getting paid at around 4 p.m. every day.
In other jurisdictions, gender pay gap legislation requires employers to publish disaggregated data illustrating whether a gender pay gap exists and requires them to take action where it does. This sort of legislation has been effective in addressing the gender pay gap. The Labour Party introduced a Bill in the previous term, namely, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017, which would have applied to all organisations with more than 50 employees. It passed all Stages in the Seanad by 3 October 2018 and was referred to the Dáil, passing Second Stage there in November 2018. We are asking the Minister to contemplate taking on that Bill. I am conscious that the previous Government also introduced the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 in that term but that Bill remains languishing before the Dáil. Does this Government propose to introduce a new Bill, for which there is a commitment in the programme for Government, or will it take on our Bill or the previous Government's Bill? Either way we want to ensure there is progress on this issue.
A piece by Mark Tighe in The Sunday Times yesterday gave a very strong indication of why this is necessary. The publication of the pay gap figures from RTÉ showed that a significant pay gap on grounds of gender still exists in RTÉ three years after the initial publication of figures in 2016. According to 2019 data, one in five women working in RTÉ earns less than €40,000, compared to almost one in ten men, and 63% of women there earn less than €60,000, compared to just 46% of men.