Sean Murray, Director of Product Services, Zellis

The Gender Pay Information Act 2021(GPIA) was signed into law by the Irish Government last July, and twelve months on, the first deadline to report is fast-approaching. As far as the legislation goes, it marks a significant step in the right direction. There’s definite room for improvement, yes, but it marks the first rung on the ladder. We’re off the ground and beginning to progress.

So what can HR teams expect, and crucially, what are the key requirements that need to be met?

Firstly, and because the legislation is being introduced in a phased manner, only Irish businesses with more than 250 employees will be required to report before the end of 2022, though this will extend to companies with over 150 employees in 2024, and then those with over 50 employees by 2025.

In terms of what these organisations need to do, there are four key obligations:

  • gather the data and pull the numbers;
  • publish the results;
  • draft a statement declaring why a gap exists, how your organisation intends to address that gap; and finally,
  • post it on your company website.

That sounds relatively straightforward, but it’s important to note two fundamental success factors: being able to easily extract the right data and ensuring the accuracy of that data.

Perhaps the most important message is this: start preparing now. Determine your readiness. Check where your payroll data is held. Is it accessible? Is it stored within one system or will you need to collate data from two or more sources? These are all critical things to consider ahead of time.

Then there’s the big question of resource. Does your organisation have enough people with the requisite capacity and know-how to ensure compliance? This is particularly important given many HRs are only just beginning to emerge from the constant firefighting that has characterised the past two years.

Adding more fuel to that fire -in an employee-led market – could have a serious impact on both talent retention and business performance.

The role of tech

The good news is that the right technology will make the reporting process infinitely quicker and less arduous. As well as eradicating the need to manually collate data from one or more payroll systems, technology also removes the risk of human error that could lead to non-compliance and a hefty fine.

So, what should HR leaders be looking for when seeking a tech solution to support pay gap reporting?

Here are five key things to consider:

1. Does the solution support all elements of the reporting requirement?

Here’s a list of everything that organisations will need to include in their reports.

2. Is it easy to operate?

It’s important to understand what manual processes, if any, users (HR and IT) are required to perform in order to get the job done.

3. Is the system able to store data in line with the reporting reference period?

Those reporting in 2022, for example, must hold pay data that goes back at least as far as June 2021.

4. What support is available to users?

Choosing a tech vendor that provides training and ongoing customer support will make for a much smoother process as well as increased peace of mind on the compliance front.

5. And finally…is the solution scalable and future-proofed for legislative change?

We already know that the GPIA reporting mechanism is due to change in December 2023, so be sure to choose a provider that has the resources and capabilities to continually update functionality in line with evolving requirements.

Consolidate systems to cut complexity

Follow the above guidance and HR teams will pave the way for a pain-free introduction to gender pay gap reporting. By far the single and fastest way to optimise this process, however, is to ensure that all payroll data is held within one system that offersa single source of truth.

If you’re heading up HR in an Irish enterprise that uses multiple payroll systems across different markets, now is the time to consolidate and cut the complexity. To put it bluntly, HR and IT leaders will save themselves valuable time, and energy by using one universal payroll system that can provide the requisite data for all employees across the organisation.

Time to get tech-ready

But while the clock may be ticking for the ‘over 250 employees’ category, the good news is that the vast majority of Irish businesses actually have more time to onboard the right technology and get prepared.

The Republic of Ireland currently has approximately 300,000 active businesses. More than 99% of these are categorised as small to medium-sized organisations, which The Central Statistics Office defines as having 250 employees or less. This means until 2024 just 0.3% of enterprises will be obliged to report on their gender pay gap data.

This soft introduction to pay gap reporting is well-advised and provides 99.7% of Irish businesses with the precious gift of time. They have longer to prepare, and more time to onboard the right tools and technologies, or, for the smaller end of the market, more time to ensure the process is outsourced to a qualified provider.

In the short term this realisation will no doubt be met with resounding sighs of relief from busy HR teams. It doesn’t, however, lend enough time for any organisation to rest on its laurels.

2024 will be upon us before we know it and, as with anything new, there’s a lot to get to grips with. By acting now you can better ensure your company’s compliance in the not-so-distant future.

About the author

Sean Murray is Director of Product Services for Zellis, based in Dublin. For 33 years he has worked in the payroll technology and services industry and has developed extensive knowledge of his field and the Irish market. Following multiple software and payroll services roles, Sean was appointed Director of Zellis Ireland’s consultancy division in 2009. He has been the chair of the Payroll Software Developers Association from 2016-2018, assisting with the implementation of the PAYE modernisation programme.