On International Women’s Day, 2o17, Iceland became the first country in the world to require that employers provide equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexuality.
Every company with 25 or more staff members will be required, by law, to gain a certificate demonstrating equal pay. Switzerland and the state of Minnesota have introduced similar plans, but Iceland’s scheme makes it mandatory for companies to prove that employees are payed equally.
Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson commented on the country’s equal pay plan.
“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,” he said.
Despite being ranked best in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum eight years in a row, women are still earning an average of 14-18 percent less than men. The consistent gap caused several protests in the country.
Last October, thousands of female workers walked out of their jobs at 2:38 p.m. to protest the wage gap. Women’s organizations say the time signifies the point in a typical eight hour day when women are essentially working without pay.
The legislation is expected to pass through parliament and be implemented in 2020. If all goes as planned, Iceland intends to close the wage gap by 2022.