Employment Law Around the World: Iceland Takes a Firm Stand on the Gender Pay Gap
Iceland recently made headlines with its new policy seeking to narrow the gender pay gap beginning in 2018. While it was already illegal both in Iceland and here in the United States to pay unequally based on gender, this new law takes a far more aggressive approach by requiring companies and organizations to set equalized, certified pay scales or face daily fines, a major shift away from requiring employees to demonstrate and prove that pay gaps are gender-based.
We applaud our Icelandic compatriots on their pursuit of gender pay equality. However, we agree with some commentators that there remains much work to be done and that this new policy may have unintended consequences: worsening other areas of workplace gender inequality. Traditional gender roles of caretaker (women) and provider (men) could be reinforced by companies who view pay transparency as an additional deterrent to hiring women. If biased employers believe women are worth hiring only at a reduced salary, because women will have “inevitable” conflicts of commitment between childcare and career, these employers may reduce their hiring of women altogether or obstruct parental leave. That said, if Iceland advances policies of equitable hiring and pay simultaneously as it advances parental leave programs, the country can break down old stereotypes and ensure that career and family planning will not be dictated by the parents’ gender.
Here at MRW we regularly help our clients negotiate for equitable treatment both in pay and parental leave. We stand ready to litigate when companies and organizations neglect current equal treatment regulations, and we continue to advocate for more progressive laws to protect employee interests. Please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys if you believe your employer is discriminating against you in pay, gender, or parental leave.