Iceland will become the first country in the world to require companies to prove they pay all employees the same, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and nationality, the country’s government announced yesterday, on International Women’s Day, the StarTribune reports. The story, originally from the Associated Press, has been covered by numerous foreign media.
The government stated it would introduce a bill in parliament this month that will obligate every company with 25 or more employees to obtain a certificate proving they provide equal pay for work of equal value. While equal-salary certificate policies exist in other countries, Iceland is believed to be the first country planning to make it mandatory for both public and private companies.
The plan is to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022. Minister of Social Affairs and Equality Þorsteinn Víglundsson said, “the time is right to do something radical about this issue.”
He continued, “Equal rights are human rights. 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.”
The World Economic Forum has ranked Iceland the best country in the world for gender equality, but Icelandic women still earn between 7 and 18 percent less than men, according to the Center for Gender Equality in Iceland.
Thousands of Icelandic women all over Iceland walked out of their workplaces at 2:38 pm on October 24 last year to protest the gender pay gap. The timing, 2:38 pm, was no coincidence. Compared to men’s earnings, organizers of the event estimated that women work without pay after that hour every day.