Iceland law: businesses must prove they pay men and women equally



Iceland has become the first country in the world to make businesses prove they offer equal pay to their employees.

The Nordic nation is the first to make this mandatory for both public and private firms, where wages are difficult to mandate. The new law will require every company with 25 or more staff to obtain a certificate demonstrating that they pay all employees equally “regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or nationality.”

Iceland, with a population of 330,000, is a forerunner in promoting gender equality. Nordic countries lead most other nations in equality policies that include gender quotas on boards and generous parental leave, and the World Economic Forum has ranked Iceland top in the world for gender equality for eight years running. 

Yet equality in pay and inclusion in the upper ranks of the workplace have lagged. Women in Iceland still earn 14 percent to 20 percent less than men, according to government sources.

Iceland wants to bridge the gap within five years, a move the government argues may speed progress in other areas. The global gender pay gap will not close for 70 years unless such efforts accelerate, according to the International Labor Organization.