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20th Jul 2016

The row over a minimum wage increase highlights Ireland’s shocking gender pay gap


Minimum wage in Ireland is a gendered issue.

The Low Pay Commission’s recent proposals to Government to increase the minimum wage by 10 cent has been labelled as “inadequate” and “disgraceful”.

The proposals, which would see an increase in the current minimum wage of €9.15 to €9.25 an hour works out at a one per cent yearly income increase, or just an extra €4 a week.

Considering that the overwhelming majority of minimum wage workers are female – an astounding 73% – this is undeniably an issue seen as urgent in reducing the gender pay gap. contacted the office of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, and a spokesperson confirmed that the gender pay gap with specific reference to women in minimum wage jobs is an issue that the Commission will be reporting on this October.

“As well as making recommendations regarding the national minimum hourly rate of pay the Commission, given the preponderance of women on the national minimum wage and in order to obtain a better understanding of the composition and profile of this group and the underlying causality, has been asked to examine this issue and report its views as to the underlying reasons for this position and make any recommendations it considers appropriate. The Commission is due to report on this by end of October this year.”

Orla O’Connor, Director of The National Women’s Council Of Ireland, told

“Any adjustments to the minimum wage in Ireland is a crucial issue for women. Considering the fact that so many women in this country rely on the minimum wage, we see it as a really important tool in bridging the income gap between men and women. We believe that the Government should increase the minimum wage to at least €10 an hour.”

A 2015 report on minimum wage workers in Ireland, conducted by The Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI), found that there are approximately 70,000 workers who live off the minimum wage in Ireland.

Of those workers, 51,1000 are women. Most of these women are in their 20s and 30s, and, according to the report, work in sectors such as accommodation, food, wholesale and retail.

The report further states that:

“Relative to employees in general, minimum wage workers are more likely to be on temporary contracts, work less than 20 hours per week, work part-time and be in the private sector.”

The current programme for government had pledged to increase the minimum wage to €10.50 by 2020. However, many groups believe that this is not sufficient for families who should be paid a living wage.

The Living Wage in Ireland is a wage which makes possible a minimum standard of living. It takes into consideration essentials such as housing, health, transport, education, food, social/recreation.

The current living wage in Ireland is set at €11.45.