Iceland puts onus on firms to pay gender equal wages

In a world first, Iceland has introduced a new law requiring employers to prove they are paying men and women the same wage for doing the same work, or face fines. As of next January, companies in Iceland must prove, with proper documentation carried out regularly, that they are paying gender equal wages. The country’s biggest bank, Landsbankinn, nationalized in 2008 during the country’s financial collapse, has already begun complying with the law. Elisabet Bjornsdottir, 34, who works in the bank’s treasury department, says she’s never experienced any discrimination vis-a-vis her male counterparts, in a country that is already among the world’s best performers in terms of gender equality. But “that’s one of the fundamental reasons why we need this law, because it’s not something that you can easily feel or see. You can maybe have a feeling […] but it’s really hard to prove,” she said. While Iceland has had a law mandating equal pay for men and women since 1961, the new law puts the onus on the employer. It’s no longer up to an employee to prove that they are being discriminated against, but rather, the employer must prove – in the event of a wage gap – that gender has nothing to do with it.

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