Iceland set to introduce ‘world’s toughest law’ to combat gender pay gap.
The nation’s parliament is examining a bill which, if accepted, would require all companies to prove they provide equal pay to their employees. Any company who failed to comply would face auditing and possible fines if the law goes ahead.
The bill which was presented to Iceland’s parliament on Tuesday, would hold both the private and public sector to account over the pay gap. It would also aim to combat all discrimination in the workplace, including discriminatory issues based on the grounds of race, religion, disability, occupational disability, age and sexual orientation.
When speaking to AFP, Thorsteinn Viglundsson, the minister of social affairs and equality said the bill “entails that companies and institutions of a certain size, 25 or more employees, undertake a certification of their equal-pay programs”.
If the bill passes, it will take effect from January 2018. But, it must first be put through a series of parliamentary debates, although with already having the backing from the centre-right coalition government and the support of the opposition it is expected to be made law.
In comparison to the rest of the world, Iceland tops the list as the nation with the lowest gender pay gap, ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. But despite the narrower wage gap, the problem still exists, with Iceland’s own national statistics from 2015 putting the unadjusted gender pay gap at 17 percent.
In 2015 Australia’s gender pay gap blew out to a record high of 18.8 percent according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which has been collecting data based on gender incomes since in 1994. Since that time Australia’s pay gap has not shifted between 15 and 18 percent.
In the US, on average women are paid 20 percent less than men and black while Hispanic women are paid even less.
Iceland has a vocal history when it comes to women’s rights and in particular it’s pay equality. In October 2016, thousands of women left work early to protest against earning less than men, while in 2012 the country introduced a voluntary measure for equal pay. Since then, nearly 50 percent of lawmakers in Iceland’s parliament are women.
The movement for pay equality has spread across nations, with just this month a #20percentcounts campaign gaining traction on social on media.
Celebrities like actor Emma Watson are already behind the campaign to help broadcast the disparity that exits between men and women in the workforce.
On her twitter account Watson posted a sketch video that highlights just how much 20 percent is, by showing women receiving less in their coffees as opposed the full coffee cup that were given to men.