Iceland may become first to require proof of equal pay for women

By Doug G. Ware  |  April 5, 2017 at 4:11 PM
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April 5 (UPI) -- Iceland is considering a proposal that would make it the first country in the world to require proof from employers that they are paying men and women equally.

Lawmakers in Reykjavik are weighing the legislation, which was introduced Tuesday. It mandates that companies with more than two dozen employees be certified by the Icelandic government that there are no discrepancies in the way they pay women and men for similar work.

If passed, the bill would make the certification requirement retroactive to the beginning of this year.

Iceland is one of the world's leading countries in paying men and women equally. It ranked first in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index for 2015, the most recent rating. The United States ranked 28th.

"For decades, we've said we're going to fix this," Frida Ros Valdimarsdottir, chairwoman of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association, said last month. "But women are still getting lower pay, and that's insane."

There is some opposition to the proposed law in parliament -- primarily due to the belief that Iceland has already demonstrated that it is paying employees equally, making such a legal requirement unnecessary.

"We have to be smart in that, when such burdensome and costly regulations are subject to the people of the country, there is an existing problem," Icelandic MP Brynjar Níelsson said Wednesday. "In other words, the problem to be solved must be present."

If companies fail to provide documentation proving equal pay, they would face potential penalties from the government.

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