Iceland Becomes the First Country to Legalize Equal Pay

Equal pay demonstration in Iceland (Metrovaartha)

Equal pay demonstration in Iceland (Metrovaartha)

Though I’ve never been to Iceland, I’ve heard good things. But now I think I might want to move there. Iceland has now become the first country to legalize equal pay. The measure started taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and was passed by a legislative body comprised of nearly 50% women (!).

That’s right: Iceland is now the first country where it’s illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work. Companies employing 25 people and more will need to prove that they are paying men and women equal, or face fines.

Iceland has really put its money where its mouth is on the issue of equal pay. According to the Global Gender Gap Reports (read the 2017 report) that have been published yearly since 2006, Iceland had made the fastest progress and closed around 10% of its total gender wage gap.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2017, Iceland ranks #1 in terms of smallest gender pay gap by country. In this same list, the United States rank #49, sitting beneath Peru and just above Zimbabwe. Nicaragua, Cuba and Bangladesh all outrank the U.S.

So, ladies: who’s down to move to Iceland?

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France Outlaws Paying for Sex

French prostitutes (The Independent UK)

French prostitutes (The Independent UK)

Earlier this month, France made a major move: The country has now made paying for sex illegal.

If someone is caught paying for sex, they’ll be fined up to $1.7K for a first offense, and up to $4.2K+ for a second time. The offender may also be required to attend classes on sex workers’ conditions.

France isn’t the only country to pass a measure of this kind, or even the first: The country follows in the footsteps of the U.K., Sweden, Iceland, and Norway.

Advocates of the new ban claim that this will help sex workers get out of the trade. But sex workers are opposing this new measure, reasoning that it will expose them to more violence.

It’s estimated that France has between 20K to 40K sex workers. (Naturally, it’s difficult to get an accurate count.)

How Many Countries Offer Paternity Leave?

Dad with newborn baby (Babble)

Dad with newborn baby (Babble)

Happy Friday! Last month, Massachusetts passed a law requiring businesses to give eight weeks of paternity leave. That’s right, paternity leave. For the fathers. The U.S. doesn’t have a paid paternity leave policy (come on, we don’t even have a paid maternity leave policy), though the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act offers 12 weeks of protection, but only if the employee has been working for the company for over a year and the company contains over 50 people. The new law would include companies with a minimum of six employees.

Work-life balance is increasingly becoming more of a concern for men as well as women, and the concept comes sharply into focus with the addition of children. The U.S. lags behind other countries in our paternity leave policies. A 2013 Pew Research Center study examined 38 countries, and found that 25 of them have guaranteed paternity leave for new fathers. Time off can range from less than one week to over eight weeks.

Several countries that offer paternity leave are within Europe. Norway, Ireland, Iceland, Slovenia, Sweden and Germany have protected paternity leave, which would allow a new father time off secure that he’ll be able to return to his job without being fired or let go. At least a portion of this time off is required to be paid, except in Ireland.

South Korea also has a paternity leave policy, in which new fathers can take up to five days off. But parents with children under three years old can request to work part- or full-time for one year to care for their child. It appears that this policy applies to both mothers and fathers.

Hopefully this new law will push policy towards a national paid leave policy, for both mothers and fathers.