Minister Flanagan and Minister Stanton launch a public consultation on tackling the gender pay gap 
 
Whole of Government approach - Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald’s Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to conduct wage surveys
 
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charles Flanagan TD, and the Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, Mr David Stanton TD, have today announced the launch of a public consultation on tackling the gender pay gap.  
 
The consultation will open for submissions from August 14.  Employers, trade unions, educational institutions and members of the public will have six weeks in which to make a submission on what can be done to narrow the gap between male and female earnings.  This process will take place in conjunction with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which will coordinate engagement with the private sector, including wage surveys. 
 
Commenting at the launch, Minister Flanagan said: “Today, I am taking the first steps towards making the gender pay gap a thing of the past. This Government wants to create an agenda for change on this issue.  That is why, in conjunction with Minister Stanton and the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, we are launching a public consultation.  We need to have a clearer understanding of the factors underpinning the pay gap so that Government action can be properly tailored towards tackling this issue effectively.”
 
Minister Flanagan continued: “The Government has made a strong commitment to advancing gender equality in Ireland in its Programme for Partnership Government and the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020. My priority is to ensure that we reduce Ireland’s gender pay gap. The Tanaiste’s Department will have its own announcements on this in due course, as this is a priority issue for this Government.”
 
Minister Stanton added: “This consultation offers an opportunity to give us your views on what can be done to narrow the gap.  We will engage with employers and trade unions to get their perspective on tackling this issue.”
 
Minister Stanton continued: “Addressing the pay gap will bring concrete benefits for families across Ireland.  Fewer women will run the risk of poverty, particularly in their old age.  Families will have more income to address day-to-day bills.  Children will learn the important message that they can expect to be treated fairly in the workplace, regardless of their gender.”
 
The Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D, said, "I want us to drive a whole of government response addressing all aspects of the gender pay agenda, including working with my agencies on promoting female entrepreneurship, skills development and the uptake of STEM subjects, We need the hard data on what is happening in different sectors of the economy so as to influence individuals and employers in career choices, and I am working with my Department on developing the necessary evidence to support enterprise focussed initiatives in this area." 
 
Minister Flanagan concluded: “Narrowing the pay gap is in all our interests.   We need to draw on the talents of our people to help us to steer a careful course through the challenges ahead.  I believe that this consultation can equip us to develop robust policies in this area.  Informed by this consultation, the Government envisions meeting with all of the key stakeholders on the gender pay gap in the Autumn.” 
 
Notes to Editors
 
Addressing the Gender Pay Gap in Ireland
 
A gender pay gap arises where there is a difference between the average hourly pay of all male employees and of all female employees.
 
Factors that can contribute to creating a gender pay gap, according to recent analysis by the European Commission, include the following:
 
· Higher-paid management and supervisory positions are more likely to be held by men who receive higher pay as a consequence;
 
· Women are more likely than men to be in part-time or temporary work, which is typically lower paid than full-time work.  Women take charge of important unpaid tasks, such as household work and caring for children or relatives on a far larger scale than men do. In the EU working men spend on average 9 hours per week on unpaid care and household activities, while working women spend 26 hours on these tasks. 
 
· Women are more likely than men to take time off work to take care of dependent family members or relatives. These career interruptions not only influence hourly pay, but also impact future earnings and pensions;
 
· Women are more likely than men to be in less well-paid professions and sectors. Segregation in education and in the labour market means that women tend to be overrepresented in some sectors and occupations, while in others men are overrepresented. In some countries, occupations predominantly carried out by women, such as teaching or sales, offer lower wages than occupations predominantly carried out by men, even when the same level of experience and education is needed; and
 
· Pay discrimination, while illegal, continues to contribute to part of the gender pay gap.
 
The EU Gender Pay Gap Indicator developed by the European Commission compares the gender pay gap across EU Member States, measuring the difference between the average gross hourly earnings of men and women, expressed as a percentage of the average gross hourly earnings of men. According to this indicator, the gender pay gap for Ireland was 13.9% in 2014.  The EU average is 16.7%.  From 2012, when the gender pay gap was at its narrowest at 12.2%, the gap now appears to be increasing.
 
The impact of the gender pay gap means that women earn less over their lifetimes; this results in lower pensions and a risk of poverty in old age. According to the most recent figures (2012), Ireland’s gender pension gap is 37%, the 6th highest in the EU, compared to an EU28 average of 38%.
 
Benefits of closing the gender pay gap include the following:
 
· Creating a fairer and more equal society and increasing economic growth.  Closing the gender pay gap can help to reduce levels of poverty and increase women’s earnings during their lifetimes. This not only avoids the risk of women falling into poverty during their working lives, but also reduces the danger of poverty in retirement.
 
· Enabling employers to benefit from more effective use of women's talents and skills, which can in turn benefit overall business performance. 
 
Addressing the gender pay gap is a priority under the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020, launched on 3 May 2017. The Strategy commits the Departments of Justice and Equality and of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to undertake the following actions, in consultation with stakeholders and interested parties:
 
Actions 1.21-1.22 of the National Strategy for Women and Girls, launched on 3 May 2017 are as follows: 
 
Action 1.21 -  ‘Undertake a package of measures to tackle the gender pay gap’.
 
Action 1.22 -  ‘Initiate dialogue between union and employer stakeholders to address the gender pay gap. Develop and promote practical information resources to explain and increase understanding of the multifaceted aspects of the gender pay gap and its causes (i.e. traditional role models, gender-segregated education and labour market, the challenges of balancing work and family life, the difference in participation of men and women in family responsibilities, the availability of quality, affordable childcare facilities and out-of-school hours care, and processes within organisations where imbalance needs to be addressed). Develop practical tools to assist employers to calculate the gender pay gap within their organisations and to consider its aspects and causes, mindful of obligations regarding privacy and data protection’.
 
Action 1.23 - ‘Promote wage transparency by requiring companies of 50 or more employees to complete a wage survey periodically and report the results’, will be progressed by the Tánaiste and her department. 
 
For further information, please contact: Press Office, Department of Justice and Equality