Lawyers at Matheson have urged employers to prepare for the introduction of mandatory reporting on gender-pay gaps later this year.
This follows an update on the issue last week from Roderic O’Gorman (Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, pictured), who said that regulations on the issue would be published “in the coming weeks”.
The regulations – under the Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 – will require organisations with more than 250 employees to report on pay differences between male and female workers in 2022.
Employers will choose a ‘snapshot’ date of their employees in June 2022, and will report on the hourly gender-pay gap for those employees on the same date in December 2022.
In a note on the Matheson website, lawyers Ailbhe Dennehy and Ciara Taggart say that lessons from the UK experience indicate that collating and reporting the required data is “not as easy as it might seem at the first glance”.
They also note some confusion between the concepts of ‘gender-pay gap’ and ‘unequal pay’, pointing out that the existence of a gap within a business is “not necessarily a red flag for discrimination”.
The lawyers stress that the requirement to publish a statement alongside the figures provides “a critical chance” for employers to contextualise the existence of any gap, and to set out their plans to shrink it.
They urge employers to take early steps to ensure that they have the right strategy for collating, computing, reporting, and ultimately communicating, the figures – and the steps to be taken to address any differences.
The Matheson lawyers say that employers should consider a trial run, but should also check that they have the right technology in place to crunch the relevant numbers.
They also call on firms to look at their existing policies and procedures – both on pay, and on recruitment and promotion strategies.
“Such a review might identify unintentional gender bias that may impact on the final figures,” the lawyers say.
The Matheson lawyers believe the legislation will force employers to highlight otherwise sensitive information that will impact directly on their brand reputation, and profile as an employer, with a consequent impact on retention and recruitment.
"This will be particularly effective in the highly competitive environment that employers are operating in now,” they add.