“Iceland Becomes the First Country in the World to Make Employers Prove They Offer Equal Pay”
According to the article, Iceland will be the first country in the world to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality, the Nordic nation’s government said recently.
The government said it will introduce legislation to parliament requiring all employers with more than 25 staff members to obtain certification to prove they give equal pay for work of equal value.
While other countries, and the U.S. state of Minnesota, have equal-salary certificate policies, Iceland is thought to be the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms.
The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.
Social Affairs and Equality Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said “the time is right to do something radical about this issue.”
“Equal rights are human rights,” he said. “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.”
Iceland has been ranked the best country in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum, but Icelandic women still earn, on average, 14 to 18% less than men.
In October thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2:38 p.m. and demonstrated outside parliament to protest the gender pay gap. Women’s rights groups calculate that after that time each day, women are working for free.
The new legislation is expected to be approved by Iceland’s parliament because it has support from both the center-right government and opposition lawmakers. The government hopes to implement it by 2020.
Iceland has introduced other measures to boost women’s equality, including quotas for female participation on government committees and corporate boards. Such measures have proven controversial in some countries, but have wide support across Iceland’s political spectrum.
Viglundsson said some people had argued the equal-pay law imposes unneeded bureaucracy on firms, and is not necessary because the pay gap is closing.
“It is a burden to put on companies to have to comply with a law like this,” he acknowledged. “But we put such burdens on companies all the time when it comes to auditing your annual accounts or turning in your tax report.
“You have to dare to take new steps, to be bold in the fight against injustice.”
1. As the article indicates, Iceland will be the first country in the world to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality. Does it surprise you that the United States was not the first country to do so? Why or why not?
This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. Although the United States has expressly prohibited discrimination based on gender, ethnicity and nationality for many decades (the “sexuality” factor has not yet been fully addressed at the federal level), our country has required the aggrieved party (the employee) to prove he or she was subjected to discriminatory treatment. As the article indicates, Iceland has placed the burden of proof on the employer to prove equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality.
2. As the article indicates, the state of Minnesota has an equal-salary certificate policy. Does it surprise you that Minnesota has such a policy? Does it surprise you that the other forty-nine states do not have such a policy? Explain your responses.
These are opinion question, so student responses may vary. In your author’s opinion, it is not surprising that Minnesota has an equal-salary certificate policy, since Minnesota has traditionally been a progressive, “pro-employee” state. It does surprise your author that other progressive states (California, for example) has not already adopted a similar policy.
3. As the article indicates, Iceland has introduced other measures to boost women’s equality, including quotas for female participation on government committees and corporate boards. Are quotas in the workplace a good way to address employment discrimination? Why or why not?
This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. In your author’s opinion, quotas are not the best way to address gender discrimination, since they fill employment positions based on gender rather than qualifications. Arguably, quotas constitute “reverse” discrimination.
“Women March across the U.S. to Fight for Equal Rights”
“Anne Hathaway Talks Motherhood, Advocates for Paid Parental Leave”
According to the article, Anne Hathaway addressed the United Nations on March 8– International Women’s Day — to advocate for paid parental leave for all Americans.
The actress — who became a mother for the first time last March and is a goodwill ambassador the U.N. — spoke about how her personal experiences as a parent have informed her stance on the issue.
Under current law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, caregivers are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for childbirth and other reasons.
“That information landed differently for me when one week after my son’s birth I could barely walk. That information landed differently when I was getting to know a human who was completely dependent on my husband and (me) for everything, when I was dependent on my husband for most things and when we were re-learning everything we thought we knew about our family and our relationship,” she said.
“Somehow we and every American parent were expected to be back to normal in under three months without income. I remember thinking to myself, ‘If the practical reality of pregnancy is another mouth to feed in your home and America is a country where most people are living paycheck to paycheck, how does 12 weeks of unpaid leave economically work?’ The truth is for too many people it doesn’t.”
Certain states (and companies) offer additional protections beyond the 12 unpaid weeks guaranteed by federal law. For instance, New York plans to roll out 12 weeks of paid leave over a period of years.
Hathaway, 34, became a goodwill ambassador to the U.N. Women last June. The organization announced at that time that the Oscar winner would spotlight issues including parental leave, gender stereotypes and affordable childcare services. In her recent speech, she argued that men also deserve paid leave after the birth of a child, especially in an age when some families include two fathers.
“The assumption and common practice that women and girls look after the home and the family is a stubborn and very real stereotype that not only discriminates against women, but limits men’s participation and connection within the family and society,” she said. “Why do we continue to undervalue fathers and overburden mothers? Paid parental leave is not about taking days off work. It’s about creating the freedom to define roles, to choose how to invest time and to establish new positive cycles of behavior.”
The issue of paid leave impacts everybody, she added.
“Let (the UN) lead by example in creating a world in which women and men are not economically punished for wanting to be parents,” she said. “Whether you have or want kids you will benefit by living in a more evolved world with policies not based on gender. We all benefit from living in a more compassionate time where our needs do not make us weak – they make us fully human.”
Note: In addition to the video, please see the following article included at the above-referenced internet site:
1. As the article indicates, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) states that caregivers are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for childbirth and other reasons. In your estimation, why would employees be reluctant to take such leave if they are legally entitled to it?
In you author’s opinion, the reasons are obvious. First, the FMLA only provides for unpaid leave, and many employees cannot afford to live for a prolonged period without a paycheck. Second, many employees are reluctant to take leave for fear of retribution from their employer, even though the FMLA expressly forbids employers to punish employees for taking family and/or medical leave.
2. Is the issue of family leave best addressed by the states, or by the federal government? Explain your response.
This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. The argument for federal regulation is uniformity of law, resulting in relative ease of interpretation and application of the law. The argument for state regulation has, at its foundation, states’ rights.
3. In your reasoned opinion, should men be legally entitled to leave after the birth of a child? Why or why not?
This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. Arguably, fathers should be entitled to such leave as well for the purpose of “bonding” with and caring for the newborn.