On Monday, January 1, Iceland made wage equality between women and men mandatory after having voted overwhelmingly last June against inequality in the workplace. Employers who maintain wage differentials will now have to pay a fine.
The law was supported both by the Left-Green led coalition government and by members of the opposition in parliament, of which nearly 50 percent are women.
For now, the new law requires all private companies and government entities with more than 25 employees to obtain an official certificate proving their equal pay policy. If the inequality persists, employers will have to pay a fine imposed by law.
“I think that now employers will begin to understand that this is a systematic problem that we need to tackle with new methods,” said Aradottir Pind, a member of the Icelandic Association for Human Rights.
“Women have been talking about this for decades and I really feel that we have managed to raise awareness, and we have managed to get to the point that people realise that the legislation we have had in place is not working, and we need to do something more,” she added.
The Icelandic government proposes to completely eradicate the wage gap in all companies by 2020.
Beyond equality between men and women, this law also concerns wage discrimination related to ethnic origin, religion, age, sexual orientation or disability. Iceland therefore becomes the first country in the world to impose and enforce strict pay equity in public and private enterprises.
For the last nine years in a row Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s list of countries for gender equality. According to the latest WEF report, the five best-performing countries when it comes to minimising the gender gap are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden.