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Iceland becomes first country to legalise equal pay

09 March 2018
On 1 January 2018, Iceland fully enacted the world's first equal pay law. Equal pay policies are now mandatory for companies with 25 or more employees and those that cannot show that they provide equal pay will be subject to fines. With this new legislation, Iceland's government has committed to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022. This is part of the PSI's campaign for International Women’s Day.

IWD2018 Day 9

Check out PSI's online campaign for International Women's Day
(1st - 10th March 2018)

A bill of law was passed by the Icelandic Parliament with a vast majority on 1 June 2017 and came into force on 1 January 2018. The new legislation makes Iceland the first country in the world to require employers to obtain certification on the basis of requirements of a management requirement standard to prove they offer equal pay for work of equal value regardless of gender.

Equal Pay Certification - logo"Iceland is the first country in the world, to introduce legislation mandating workplaces to implement the Equal Pay Standard," says Maríanna Traustadóttir, Advisor of Equality and Environmental Issues at the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASI).

"The workplaces have to undergo an audit and receive certification that their employees are equally paid for work of equal value. From the beginning it has been a tripartite cooperation between workers, employers and the Government. It will be a great challenge for trade unions in Iceland to monitor and follow up that workplaces fulfill the requirements of the new law."

Before this law, Iceland was already a leader in gender parity and has been ranked the best in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum for nine years in a row. 

But gender pay gap issues have continued to persist, breaking into full view with public protest in October 2016 when women in Iceland left work at 2:38 to protest income inequality. Icelandic women still earn, on average, between 14% and 20% less than men, despite an equal pay act that dates back to 1961.

"Even though Iceland has succeeded in achieving gender equality in many areas, we have not come to the end of the 'Equality' road," adds Traustadóttir.

"We are still fighting the gender pay gap, segregated labour market, even though women are more than 60% of university graduates we need more women in STEM. The work-life balance, empowering women and more female economic power are among the challenges we face ahead."


On 24 October 2016 demonstrations took place in Iceland organised by the women‘s movement and the labor movement (see video):

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