The average gender pay gap in Ireland has risen to 14.4%, according to the most recent estimates from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The 2017 figure – based on the latest available data – compares to a significantly lower gap of below 12.6% during the recession.
The new research also revealed that the gap is wider for older workers, with younger women who recently entered the workforce suffering a gap of just 3%. This jumps to 15% for the 35-44 age group, which represents most young mothers, and stays high for those aged over 45.
This is largely due to the fact that women are far more likely than men to take time out of the workforce to care for children, which stalls their earnings and has a long-term impact on their future pay and promotion prospects.
The National Women’s Council of Ireland has also highlighted the high cost of childcare, which puts constraints on women’s participation in the workforce.
Fórsa has been at the forefront of campaigns for the introduction of new laws to compel employers to report their gender pay gap. Unions believe that legislation to oblige employers to disclose differences in pay between male and female employees – and explain the reasons for such imbalances – would highlight inequalities and encourage action to redress pay imbalances.
A Gender Pay Gap Information Bill stalled when the recent general election was called.
Fórsa had earlier criticised the previous Government for failing to back an opposition bill on gender pay gap reporting. It said the Fine Gael-led administration risked running out of time to pass the legislation after it insisted on publishing its own bill instead – a forecast that turned out to be correct.