What is an Equality Plan?

According to the Act on Equal Status and Rights Irrespective of Gender no. 150/2020 all companies and institutions that have 25 or more employees must make an Equality Plan or integrate equality matters into their personnel policies. Article 5 states that an Equality Plan must uphold the rights that are stated in articles 6-14 of the Act. The matters that are especially discussed are equal pay, vacancies, job training, continuous education and vocational education, coordination of family and work-life and how employers and managers should prevent gender-based violence, gender-based harassment and sexual harassment at the workplace.

An Equality Plan should detail goals and actions that consist of the following articles:

Article 6, General provision regarding pay equality
“Women, men and persons whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland shall be paid equal pay and enjoy equal terms of employment for the same jobs or jobs of equal value. “Equal pay” means that pay shall be determined in the same manner for all persons regardless of gender. The criteria based on which pay is determined shall not involve gender discrimination. Workers shall at all times be permitted to disclose their pay terms, should they so choose.”

Article 12, Vacancies, vocational training, retraining and continuing education.
“Employers shall take necessary measures to ensure that women, men and persons whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland have equal opportunities regarding retraining, continuing education and vocational training, and to attend courses held to enhance vocational skills or to prepare for other assignments occupations.”

Article 13, Reconciliation of work and family life
“Employers shall take the measures necessary to enable their employees to reconcile their professional obligations and family responsibilities, irrespective of gender. Such measures shall, inter alia, be aimed at increasing flexibility in the organisation of work and working hours in such a way as to take account of both employees’ family circumstances and the needs of the labour market, including facilitating the return of employees to work following maternity/paternity or parental leave or leave from work due to pressing and unavoidable family circumstances.”

Article 14, Gender-based violence, gender-based harassment and sexual harassment
“Employers and the directors of institutions, civil society organisations and sports and youth organisations shall take special measures to protect their employees, students and clients from gender-based violence, gender-based harassment or sexual harassment in the workplace or institution, social activities or schools. If a superior is charged with alleged gender-based violence, alleged gender-based harassment or alleged sexual harassment, he or she shall be non-competent to take decisions regarding the working conditions of the plaintiff during the examination of the case, and the next superior shall take such decisions.”

Equality plans ensure active equality work in the labour market

An Equality Plan is primarily intended to analyse and evaluate the present situation in the workplace and tear down the obstacles that may stand in the way of employees. Informed staff is a prerequisite for active equality work in companies and institutions.

It is in interest for the labour market that employees are enthusiastic and happy, and that everyone’s knowledge and experience can be utilized. Investing in employees does not only deliver an improved work environment but also improved competitiveness.

Here are some key clauses concerning the labour force from the second chapter of the Act on Equality:

  • Employers and trade unions shall systematically work towards equalising the position of women and men in the labour market. Employers shall specifically work towards equalising the position of women and men within their companies or institutions and promote a classification of jobs that does not designate them as specifically women’s or men’s jobs. Special emphasis shall be placed on equalising the positions of women and men as regards managerial and influential positions.
  • Employers and trade unions shall take into consideration the labour market position of persons whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland.
  • Women, men, and persons whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland shall be paid equal pay and enjoy equal terms of employment for the same jobs or jobs of equal value.
  • Vacant positions that are open for application shall be equally accessible to women, men, and persons whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland, however cf. Article 16(2).
  • Employers shall take necessary measures to ensure that women, men, and persons whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland have equal opportunities regarding retraining, continuing education and vocational training, and to attend courses held to enhance vocational skills or to prepare for other assignments occupations.
  • Employers shall take the measures necessary to enable their employees to reconcile their professional obligations and family responsibilities, irrespective of gender.
  • Employers and the directors of institutions, civil society organisations and sports and youth organisations shall take special measures to protect their employees, students, and clients from gender-based violence, gender-based harassment or sexual harassment in the workplace or institution, social activities or schools.

 

Projects and actions in Equality plans.

Creating a just environment where equality prevails among all genders, is no different than any other project. It demands preparations, goal setting, decisions on methods and last but not least, the will to follow up on those decisions.

It’s important that the projects/objectives are well defined from the beginning and that they are presented to the staff in a sufficient way, this needs to happen both as the Equality Plan is in the making and, as it’s put into use.

A Project Execution Plan must follow the Equality Plan and ways to reach predetermined goals need to be defined. In the project execution plan, it needs to be clear who is responsible for what and how to follow up on projects/objectives.