Iceland Becomes First Country To Make It Illegal To Pay Men More Than Women

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Iceland Becomes First Country To Make It Illegal To Pay Men More Than Women

Iceland has passed radical new legislation to become the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women.

Iceland has passed radical new legislation to become the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women.

The new law - effective from 1 January 2018 - requires all private and public employers with more than 25 staff to obtain government certification of their equal pay policies – or face fines and auditing.

Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera: “The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organisations… evaluate every job that’s being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally.”

The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.

Aradottir Pind added: “We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now but we still have a pay gap.”

Iceland was ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. But Icelandic women still earn, on average, 14% to 18% less than men. The United Kingdom ranked 18th out of 145 countries.

News of the new law was first announced on International Women’s Day in March 2017.

That month, Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said “the time is right to do something radical about this issue”.

“Equal rights are human rights,’’ he said. “We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that.’’

In October thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2.38pm and demonstrated outside parliament to protest the gender pay gap. Women’s rights groups calculate that after that time each day, women are working for free.

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