Iceland marked International Women’s Day 2017 by requiring companies to prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and nationality.
Companies with more than 25 employees on their books will need equal pay certification under new laws coming into force in spring 2018.
Þorsteinn Víglundsson, Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Equality said that businesses opposed the law at every level, but they were necessary as Iceland has not moved closely enough towards closing the disparity in earnings between men and women. The country has set a target of eradicating the gender pay gap completely by 2022.
Iceland’s gender pay gap is 15 per cent. Britain’s is 18 per cent.
Iceland has been at the forefront of a push towards gender parity of pay and for the past eight years has come first on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Pay Index. The UK ranks 18th.
Iceland has introduced a number of measures to reduce the gender pay gap in the country, including greatly improved parental leave schemes aimed at ensuring that having children doesn’t hold women back, and quotas of minimum 40 per cent women on boards of companies with 50 employees or more. This move has had a significant impact on representation, increasing the ratio of women on boards from between 20 per cent to around 37 per cent.
Under the new certification law, companies will be required to document how they value education, experience, responsibility and all other performance factors they incorporate into their pay system. Each company will be audited. The audit reports will be published and companies which fail audits will have to notify employees and unions. Individual employees would then have the right to seek compensation.