Women working in low paid jobs in Ireland are likely to earn 14 per cent less than men doing the same work, but one Galway senator is hopeful this situation can begin to be changed.
Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly has welcomed the introduction of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill. The aim of the Bill, which was brought forward by Green Party Minister Roderic O’Gorman, will require employers to publish certain information on the differences in pay between female and male employees.
It will initially apply to companies with 250 or more employees, with the threshold reducing to 50 or more over time. The requirement will apply in the private and public sectors once the employment threshold is met.
“The real question is why the work women engage in is paid less than men,” said Sen O’Reilly. “We should ensure we are all paid the same and that we can all make a living for our children and families. We should ensure that the kind of work we are engaged in is not something to be ashamed of.
“I should not have to feel, if I work in a crèche, that I am any less than somebody working in a male-dominated profession. Unfortunately, that is where we are as a society. If we genuinely want to encourage more men into some roles, we need to start showing that it is valued. I guarantee men will step up to the plate in those roles if they feel they are valued professions.”
Sen O’Reilly [pictured above] noted the number of cases that have been brought to the Workplace Relations Commission involving women being asked, at interview, if they plan to have children.
“The implication is that they might not have what it takes to stay the course,” she said. “We should not, as individuals, rely on the courts to vindicate our rights under equality legislation but put a greater onus on the State and employers to demonstrate compliance with a set of principles which is laid down, in part, by this legislation. That is what this Bill is about.”
Sen O’Reilly said women’s need for more flexible working arrangements should not be seen as a weakness or inconvenience by employers, but as a reality.
“We have babies, we sometimes want to be at home, we sometimes want flexible working, and we also want to feed our families, and not to live in poverty,” she said. “We should never be forced into caring roles because of a lack of childcare or through direct discrimination, as happens when workplaces simply pay us less or subconsciously do not think that we look or sound like what they expect from a worker in a specific role, especially roles at a higher end which pay more.”