From Iceland — Equal Pay Act Passes Parliament

Equal Pay Act Passes Parliament

Published June 2, 2017

Yesterday, Alþingi passed an equal pay bill, which will require companies with 25 employees or more to guarantee that male and female employees receive the same wages for the same work. Companies will need to prove that they provide equal pay by filing an annual equal pay certification.

The bill was introduced by Welfare Minister Þorsteinn Víglundsson from government coalition party Viðreisn in April, and passed with 49 to 8 votes. All Pirate Party MPs voted against the bill, as well as former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn MP and Chairman of the Economic Affairs and Trade Committee, Óli Björn Kárason, abstained from voting.

In April, Óli told RÚV that the bill went too far and that it included “oppresive clauses”, which weren’t necessary.

“We already have laws ensuring equality between the sexes, laws that make it punishable and criminal to discriminate against people based on their gender, laws that result in fines or more severe punishment,” said Óli. “Our constitution also very clearly guarantees equality.”

Swallow your vomit

But not all who voted for the bill did so without serious reservations. Brynjar Níelsson from Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn said that he’d had “sleepless nights” leading up to the vote and had “swallowed vomit in service of the greater good.”

Last month, Grapevine reported that a poll from Market and Media Research showed that a clear majority of Icelanders were in favour of the bill, with 60.1% of respondents claiming to support it, while only 20.8% were opposed.

Therefore, luckily, not all Icelanders need to vomit when discussing equal pay. Maybe Brynjar just ate a bad kebab or some old eggs before he went in to vote. That happened to the entire office the last time we voted for who won the weekly show and tell.

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