Iceland to enshrine equal pay for women and men in law

Legislation will be first in world to require private companies and government agencies to prove pay is fair or face fines

Icelands parliament has presented a bill that would require public and private businesses to prove they offer equal pay to employees, in what would be the first such requirement in the world.

The bill entails that companies and institutions of a certain size, 25 or more employees, undertake a certification of their equal-pay programmes, Thorsteinn Viglundsson, minister of social affairs and equality, said.

Iceland ranks first on the World Economic Forums 2015 global gender gap index, followed by fellow Nordic nations Norway, Finland and Sweden.

But the new law aims to close the wage gap between men and women in the island nation of more than 323,000 people, Viglundsson said.

It has the support of both Icelands centre-right coalition government as well as the opposition and nearly 50% of the lawmakers in parliament are women.

The law would take effect from January.

The gender pay gap is unfortunately a fact in the Icelandic labour market and its time take radical measures; we have the knowledge and the processes to eliminate it, Viglundsson said.

The law would require private companies and government agencies to go through audits and receive certification that equal pay is provided, or they could face fines.

In regard to annual financial statements, there are fines if documents are not delivered, and I can see the same apply if an equal-pay certification has not been implemented, since it will be an obligation, Viglundsson said.

He said the law was burdensome, setting new obligations on the Scandinavian countrys economy and businesses, but added: The benefits are at the same time obvious.

Managers and companies that have undertaken the procedure have been positive, as they have found it beneficial to go systematically through pay decisions in their sections, Viglundsson said.

Icelands economy is basking in the glow of soaring tourism and a thriving fisheries sector, with growth reaching 11% in the first quarter of this year, after full-year growth of 7.2% in 2016.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/05/iceland-equal-pay-women-men-law