Nation becomes 'first in the world' to make equal pay mandatory

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 9, 2017

On International Women's Day, while one North Atlantic country paid lip service to the event, another proposed monumental legislation in favor of women's rights.

Iceland will be the first country in the world to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality, the Nordic nation's government said Wednesday - International Women's Day.

"The time is right to do something radical about this issue", said Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson. 'Equal rights are human rights.

Although the World Economic Forum has ranked Iceland top in the world for gender equality for eight years running, women in the small island nation still earn up to 18% less than men on average.

The Nordic nation is the first to make this mandatory for both public and private firms, where wages are hard to mandate, the Independent reports. "It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that".

A recent survey placed the wage gap in Iceland at 14%, while women in the United Kingdom are earning almost 20% less than their male counterparts. Women's rights groups calculate that, according to the current pay gap, after that time each day women are working for free.

The legislation for the certification will be tabled by the Icelandic government in parliament this month, and pending approval, will become compulsory for companies and institutions over the next few years. The government hopes to implement it by 2020.

Iceland has introduced other measures to boost gender equality, such as including quotas for female participation on government committees and corporate boards.

Mr Viglundsson said there had been opposition to the law from those who said it represents unnecessary bureaucracy. Although critics of the law said that this puts an added strain on companies, the expected outcome is positive. 'But we put such burdens on companies all the time when it comes to auditing your annual accounts, or turning in your tax report.

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