Reykjavik, Iceland. Iceland’s parliament is considering a bill that would require companies to prove they offer equal pay to employees, regardless of gender. The law is set to become a world first, with the goal of clossing the wage gap between men and women.
Icelandic companies face auditing, followed by stiff fines if they do not comply.The bill, which was presented on Tuesday, is supported by the center right coalition government and the opposition.
Employers in Icelandic corporations were ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. However, according to Iceland’s statistics for the same year, the unadjusted gender pay gap between males and females has remained at 17%.
Some corporations complain the new regulations are costly and hamper business activity. Thorsteinn Viglundsson, the Icelandic minister of social affairs and equality points out the compliance requirements,”The bill entails that companies and institutions of a certain size, 25 or more employees, undertake a certification of their equal-pay program.”
The Icelandic bill will now be subject to a series of debates, and if passed will take effect in January 2018. In the Icelandic parliament, nearly 50% of lawmakers are women, and a voluntary measure for equal pay across the country was introduced in 2012. Still, many do not think enough is being done. Back in October of 2016, thousands of women left work early heading out onto the streets of the capital, Reykjavik, to protest the gap between male and female pay.