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WATCH: Iceland is bridging the gender pay gap, but can South Africa do the same

Iceland will be the first country to bridge the gender pay gap: Photo: Facebook

Iceland will be the first country to bridge the gender pay gap: Photo: Facebook

Published Oct 10, 2017


DURBAN - Iceland is creating a law to abolish the gender pay gap between men and women, to ensure that if men and women do the same job, they should get paid equally.

Women in Iceland have been paid 30% less than men. In October 2016 a number of Icelandic women took 30% off their 8 hour work day to leave work at 2:38pm and protest against the gender pay gap.

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Iceland will be the first place in the world to bridge the gender pay gap and force companies to give their workers equal pay by law. The gender pay gap shows that women earn about half as much as men earn. One reason that women are paid less than men is that women work jobs that do not pay very well, such as teaching or taking care of the elderly. 

Men and women could be doing the same job for the same amount of hours but women get the short end of the stick by earning less money than men. Now the government has introduced some new guidelines, The Equal Pay Standard and this is how it works. 

Company bosses calculate how demanding the job is and the value of each role by looking at items like education, mental stress, physical strain, and responsibility. Once it is calculated each job is given a score.

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When the scores are calculated and if two people have the same score but not the same pay then the employer has to fix it. This results in the one with the lower pay having a pay increase.

The law has been piloted at the Customs Office for Iceland. It showed that women that has a statistics analyst job and man that has a legal adviser job are equal. However, women are paid less, but now due to the Equal Pay Standard, gets a pay raise to match her gender counterpart. 

From this pilot there was a 10% pay increase with 9% of women having a pay increase and men having a 1% pay increase. 

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Unnur Kristjansdottir who is the Head of Human Resources said that they have a generally happier workforce knowing that the salary system is something that they can trust. She also said that it would help with the recruitment process because they are now a certified employer that are paying equal wages for equal jobs. From January 2018 the government will force companies to implement the Equal Pay Standard and companies that don't implement the law will be fined. Some Icelandic citizens are unhappy and think that the law will create layers of bureaucracy. 

While the law might change the gender pay gap, more men are still doing better paid jobs. However some of the people of Iceland think that the Equal Pay Standard is a good idea.

The gender pay gap in South Africa

A tweet by the South African distributor of Hyundai said that women in SA earn 27% less than men. The statistics for that tweet came from a 2017 Pulse of the People report by Ipsos, a market research firm.

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Although the report is not available to the public, the director and political analyst at Ipsos, Mari Harris, confirmed that the statistic was from their report. Ipsos South Africa conducted interviews with 3 598 employed people in different occupations, in rural and urban areas across the nation. The Ipsos South Africa analysis found that the average personal income for men was R9,222.16 per month and for women it was R6,688.80 per month.

However according to the Labour Market Dynamics Survey by Stats South Africa, women earned 23% less than men. 

Professor Martin Wittenburg at the UCT school of economics said that the reason between the two statistics being different could be due to the difference between average and median incomes.  

A reasons behind women and men earning at different levels could be productive characteristics. 

Collete Muller a a senior lecturer at the University of KwaZulu Natal’s school of accounting, economics and finance said that both genders work in different occupations and industries and therefore are associated wit different rates of pay and benefits. 

Another aspect is women generally work in the informal sector such as domestic work or part time work. 


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