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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Vol. 1021 No. 6

Employment Equality (Pay Transparency) Bill 2022: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Employment Equality Act 1998 to provide for pay transparency in the advertising of jobs.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for granting me time and leave to introduce this Bill. I also thank the staff in the Bills Office and the Office of the Ceann Comhairle for their assistance in bringing this forward. I will share time with my colleague Deputy Conway-Walsh, who is co-signing the Bill.

What this Bill does is straightforward. It will amend section 10 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 which deals with advertising in order that it will then read that a person shall not publish an advert relating to employment which omits the appropriate remuneration for a contract of employment. It will then forbid the ads from omitting the appropriate remuneration for the role. It is complementary to pay transparency and pay reporting, regarding which the Government has already introduced legislation. However, this is a more immediate and simple measure and is very much in keeping with the overall aim of equality and employment legislation.

Similar legislation has been introduced in other jurisdictions such as Canada, Sweden and Norway. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, CIPD, with regard to the gender pay gap in Ireland, the differential between the average pay of males and females within an organisation is estimated at an average of 14% for 2021. Strong workers' rights legislation, education and childcare are all essential in addressing inequalities, but I hope this will be some small measure also.

It will also prevent jobseekers going to the trouble of applying for employment only to discover a different rate of pay than they initially anticipated. Pay transparency is important as it allows women and minorities, in particular, to check if they are undertaking similar work for the same rates of pay. I heard Deputy Griffin mentioning a great Kerryman. Pay transparency and equality was achieved by another great man, Mike Quill from Kilgarvan, for his members on the buses and subways of New York in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Bill will empower workers to negotiate better pay as they can benchmark themselves against the going rate. Clarity in terms of pay enables discrimination as women and men are prevented from making a case to be paid the same as colleagues where there is no transparent benchmarking. The Debenhams workers in Tralee of course were women in the main, and sectors such as retail with a high concentration of women and minorities see more and more violations of workers' rights. We must put a stop to this. I hope the Bill goes some small way towards doing so.

I acknowledge the work of my colleague, Deputy Daly, and his office on this Bill. The more transparency around wages, the better for all workers as it can help to ensure they get a fair deal from employers. Pay transparency is also an important tool for tackling the gender pay gap and other forms of pay-related discrimination. Progress has been made in the area of pay transparency in recent years, as outlined by my colleague.

This legislation is an important step in strengthening the position of workers, specifically in the job application process. The legislation will make it a requirement to publish salaries on job advertisements. Anyone who has searched for a job, especially online, will be familiar with scrolling down and finding, where one expects to see a salary, instead of an actual figure, phrases such as "depending on experience” or “competitive salary”.

The truth is that the lack of transparency and asymmetric information reduces the bargaining power of the applicant and skews the power in favour of the employer. Knowing the salary upfront lets a candidate understand whether a job will be financially viable for him or her before committing the time and effort to apply. It shows workers already in the job what salaries are being offered to attract new employees. Leaving the employer to negotiate with the successful candidate on salary after the fact can lead to women, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and minorities often ending up on a lower salary.

An increasing body of research shows salary transparency is a way of creating a more equitable workplace. In the third level sector, in particular, we know that working conditions for tutors, lecturers and researchers have been eroded by the employment practices of underfunded colleges. We also know that it is disproportionately women and minorities on precarious contracts. I recently spoke to a woman who has been moved from short-term contract to short-term contract for 18 years. We need to skew the contracts and what is offered, in terms of the worker, to protect the worker's rights and give equal power to both the employer and the workers.

Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.