Greater levels of pay transparency in Ireland will uncover unjustified gender-based pay differences and empower victims of pay discrimination to seek redress
Companies in Ireland, and indeed all across the European Union, will now be forced to disclose salary information, after the European Parliament, today, voted overwhelmingly in support of the Pay Transparency Directive. Today’s vote represents a landmark day for gender equality and will put money back into the pockets of women all over Ireland. The Directive will mean that employees will now be able to compare salaries and expose the existing discriminatory gender pay gaps, while pay secrecy will also be banned and employers will not be able to restrict workers from disclosing their pay. Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels ahead of this morning’s vote, MEP Maria Walsh noted that the gender pay gap in the EU currently stands at 12.7%. “This pay gap remains unexplained and cannot be linked to the individual worker, the workplace, education or working time. It’s time we finally deliver on the promises of equal pay, a founding principle of the European Union since the 1957 Treaty of Rome,” she told the plenary sitting.
The Midlands-North-West representative has been the Fine Gael MEP (EPP) negotiator on the Directive over the last couple of years. As the only Irish MEP involved in the negotiations, Walsh fought hard for the introduction of binding pay-transparency measures. “Ireland’s Gender Pay Gap Information Act, introduced in 2022, requires companies to report differences in pay between genders and close the gap. It is a measure and movement that is long overdue, but very welcome,” she stated.
“As a result of this Act being introduced in Ireland, all companies – public and private – with 250 or more employees in Ireland are required to report annually. This will fall to 150 in 2024 and 50 in 2025. The requirement encompasses full-time and part-time employees as well as employees who are on leaves of under 12 months. The EU Pay Transparency Directive complements the measures already introduced by Ireland,” continued MEP Walsh.
The new Directive will enable greater levels of pay transparency and uncover unjustified gender-based pay differences, empowering victims of pay discrimination to seek redress, according to MEP Walsh. “It’s time we gave our workers the tools they need to compare salaries and ensure they are paid equally for the work that they do. In the words of Francis Bacon, knowledge is power,” she continued.
As Ireland celebrates its 50th anniversary as a member of the EU, MEP Walsh went on to reflect on the leading role the EU has played in striving for gender equality. “We must not forget that it was EU law which forced Ireland to abolish its discriminatory Marriage Bar – an unjust piece of legislation which pushed thousands of Irish women out of the workforce, based solely on their marital status. Today, that long struggle for gender equality reaches another milestone. It’s time we finally deliver on the promises of equal pay and we as a European Parliament must legislate for income equality and eradicate the gender pay gap once and for all.”
In line with the agreement on the Pay Transparency Directive, companies will now be required to disclose salary information to allow employees to compare salaries and expose existing gender pay gaps. “Pay secrecy will also be banned and employers will not be allowed to restrict workers from disclosing their pay. As well, for the first time, intersectional discrimination and the rights of non-binary persons have been included within the scope of the new Directive,” added MEP Walsh.
Today’s vote in support of the Pay Transparency Directive is a major step forward in eradicating the pay gap across Europe. The Directive will complement the measures already taken by 17 Member States who are currently supporting Pay Equality Measures and ensure they are enacted across the EU.