Min­i­mum wage slashed gen­der gap for low paid

Irish Examiner - - News - Con­all Ó Fátharta

The in­tro­duc­tion of the min­i­mum wage al­most 20 years ago slashed the gen­der pay gap for lower paid work­ers but not in any other wage lev­els.

That is ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Eco­nomic and So­cial Re­search In­sti­tute (ESRI) ex­am­in­ing the im­pact of the in­tro­duc­tion of the na­tional min­i­mum wage on the gen­der pay gap when it was in­tro­duced in Ire­land and the UK.

In April 1999, a na­tional min­i­mum wage of stg£3.60 per hour was in­tro­duced in the UK. One year later, it was set at IR£4.40 per hour in Ire­land. The level of the min­i­mum wage, as a pro­por­tion of the av­er­age wage, was com­pa­ra­ble in the two coun­tries.

The re­port found that there was a large de­crease in the gen­der wage gap for low­paid work­ers in Ire­land. How­ever, no sig­nif­i­cant changes were ob­served at other wage lev­els.

The study points out that, be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of the Ir­ish min­i­mum wage, men’s wages were 24% higher than women’s wages among the low­est paid 10% of work­ers. Af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of the min­i­mum wage, this gap had re­duced to 5%.

How­ever, al­most no de­crease in the gen­der wage gap was ob­served for the low­est bracket of work­ers in the UK fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the min­i­mum wage.

Ka­rina Door­ley, co-au­thor of the ESRI study, said the in­tro­duc­tion of the min­i­mum wage in the UK was less ef­fec­tive in tack­ling the gen­der wage gap than the Ir­ish min­i­mum wage due to dif­fer­ent pat­terns of com­pli­ance.

“Over­all, com­pli­ance with min­i­mum wage leg­is­la­tion was high, around 95%, in both the UK and Ire­land around its in­tro­duc­tion and re­mains high to­day,” she said.

“How­ever, in the UK, most of those earn­ing less than the min­i­mum wage af­ter its in­tro­duc­tion were women while, in Ire­land, men and women were equally likely to ex­pe­ri­ence min­i­mum wage non-com­pli­ance.

“En­force­ment of the min­i­mum wage for women or in fe­male-dom­i­nated pro­fes­sions ap­pears to have been less ef­fec­tive than for men in the UK.

“The re­sults of this study in­di­cate that the gen­der wage gap for the low paid may be ef­fec­tively re­duced by a na­tional min­i­mum wage, pro­vided that com­pli­ance is high and is not dif­fer­ent by gen­der,” said Ms Door­ley.

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