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Iceland Legally Requiring Businesses To Pay Men, Women Equally

Iceland Legally Requiring Businesses To Pay Men, Women Equally

A law which was passed in June past year and came into effect on 1 January makes it mandatory for companies to demonstrate that they pay their female and male employees equally.

Companies could face fines of up to 50,000 Icelandic krona (€400) for each day they are not in compliance.

The law, which was passed previous year and went into effect on Monday, is believed to be the first of its kind in the world and covers both the private and public sectors.

The new law, which came into effect on the first day of 2018, requires organisations of 25 people or more to apply to the government for certification of equal pay policies. That is not exactly what happened.

Ranked number one in World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index, Iceland has championed the cause of women rights and had made it illegal to pay women and men differently on the basis of their gender as early as 1963. Sanders's presidential campaign website, which is still up and running, calls the wage gap a "national disgrace", saying, "It is wrong that women working full-time only earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns".

Iceland has set an example in the new year for the world to follow, or so at least women would agree.

Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association, told Al Jazeera that the legislation is "a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally".

"Tighter legislation in the United Kingdom, requiring employers to have an actual equal pay policy and requiring them to provide this to a regulator, has to be a positive step for the United Kingdom and to focus the mind of businesses on the requirements to pay men and women equally for the same or like work".

Despite the fact that women entered the workforce in large numbers in the latter half of the 20th century, gender parity has not yet been achieved, and failure to address this could potentially hinder gender equality in the workplace. The small country has closed "more than 87 percent of its overall gender gap", the WEF wrote in November. If the country reached full gender parity, the WEF estimated, it could add $1.7 trillion to the economy.

The current coalition government in its "Agreement" for coalition had affirmed its commitment to equal pay certification stating that "Deliberate steps will be taken to eradicate gender-based wage discrimination". Activists have long urged the government to do more to tackle this pay gap.

Iceland has been ahead of the curve in the gender equality realm for years, and the new legislation is part of the trend.

Hungary was the only European country to be ranked lower than the global average, having scored poorly on political empowerment.

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