Iceland Makes Equal-Pay History

Advocates of equal pay are celebrating a big win in Iceland, but when will the U.S. follow suit?
By: | January 8, 2018 • 4 min read
Gender inequality on payment business concept. Businessman looks from top of coins pile on business lady sitting on lesser pile.Concept of career inequality, disparity, gender differences, foul play

Iceland, long considered to be the global leader on gender equality in the workforce, recently took another step forward to close the gender wage gap.

Legislation went into effect Jan. 1 that adds some needed teeth to the Nordic country’s decades-old equal-pay law. The new measure requires that companies with at least 25 employees undergo a certification process to demonstrate that they pay men and women equally. Businesses that fail to earn the certification, approved by an independent auditor, are subject to fines.


While a handful of countries have taken steps to address the wage gap, Iceland’s new enforcement procedure has set a global precedent, according to NPR. Iceland adopted an equal-pay law in 1961 but, as that original measure was written, the onus to prove pay discrimination was placed on the individual worker; the recent update pivots that responsibility to the employer, which is required to prove it does not discriminate.