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The Government Offices Gender Equality Plan

The Government Offices Gender Equality Plan 2021-2023

This Gender Equality Plan applies to the Government Offices as the common workplace of ministry employees, in keeping with Chapter II, on Rights and Obligations, of the Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender (the Equality Act) No 150/2020, and provides for objectives and actions to ensure that Government Offices employees enjoy the rights guaranteed to them by the Equality Act.

Each Government Offices ministry is responsible for enforcing the Government Offices Gender Equality Plan in its operations.

Guiding principle

The Government Offices should be a sought-after place to work, where gender equality is fully respected. All employees shall have equal opportunities to benefit from their own enterprise and to develop their work skills without discrimination. Employees of the Government Offices shall show each other respect in the spirit of the Government Offices Human Resource Policy.

I. Equal pay

When pay rates are determined, care shall be taken that there are no unexplained differences between the pay received by each employee. People of all genders shall enjoy the same pay rate for the same or equally valuable work.

Under the Equality Act, Government Offices employees are always free to disclose their pay rate if they so choose, and their managers or others who are involved in determining pay rates are not permitted to request employee confidentiality regarding their pay rates.

Objective Action Responsibility Time frame
 Eradicate gender-based pay differences #1: Work towards improving the ministries’ equal pay systems in accordance with the ÍST 85 equal pay standard will continue.  Each ministry’s central administration Annually
#2: An annual check shall be made to discover whether there are gender-based differences between pay rates and employee benefits from ministry to ministry. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs shall present the findings to the Permanent Secretaries, who shall decide how to respond. Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Annually, in January
  #3: An annual consultation meeting will be held between gender equality officers and the human resources group on the ministries’ equal pay systems. Gender equality officers in collaboration with the human resources group and/or the person responsible for the equal pay system in each ministry
Annually, in February

II. Vacancies and job advancement, vocational training, retraining and continuing education

Vacant positions that are open for application shall be equally available to women, men and persons whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland. Gender equality concerns shall have the same status as other important concerns that determine job appointments. The aim is to maintain an equal gender ratio as much as possible in jobs within the ministries. A special emphasis is placed on equalising the gender ratio as regards managerial and influential positions.

Objective Action Responsibility Time frame
Equal access to jobs #4No reference is to be made to gender in advertisements for job vacancies. Everyone should be urged to apply, regardless of their gender. Person responsible for recruitment Always
Equal opportunities for job advancement and a gender mixed workplace #5: Summarising information about the employee gender ratio in each ministry is part of the annual review made by the ministries’ administrators. Operations managers/Human Resources Managers
Annually, to be finished by December

#6: If the gender ratio is uneven, special consideration must be given to gender concerns in the recruitment of new employees when applicants are equally suitable or when employees transfer between jobs within a ministry, and the opportunity must be used to equalise the ratio to the benefit of the gender that is in the minority. Permanent Secretaries and general directors Always
  #7: In the annual employee survey, employees shall be asked about their opinion of the processes for job advancement within each ministry. If the survey reveals that the employees feel that the gender ratio is uneven or if the genders have different opinions on the matter, further analysis shall be made and measures taken if necessary.

Operations managers/Human Resources Managers

Annually, to be finished in December
Equal access to retraining #8: In the annual employee survey, employees shall be asked whether they have received encouragement to seek continuing education and retraining. If the survey reveals that the employees feel that the gender ratio is uneven or if the genders have different opinions on the matter, further analysis shall be made and measures taken.  Operations managers/human resources managers
Annually, to be finished in December

III. Reconciliation of work and family life

Employees shall be enabled to reconcile their work duties and family responsibilities regardless of their gender. The organisation of work hours and job flexibility shall enable employees to enjoy their free time. It is prohibited to allow maternity/paternity and parental leave or other circumstances relating to pregnancy and childbirth to have a negative effect on decisions regarding job advancement, retraining, termination, working conditions and other such matters. Overtime work shall also be kept within reasonable limits.

Objective Action Responsibility Time frame
Reconciliation of work and family life #9: Employees shall be informed of the Government Offices’ attendance policy, as well as the resources available to facilitate the reconciliation of family life and work, e.g. the equal right to maternal and paternal leave, absences due to children’s illnesses, flexible working time, telecommuting and other individually tailored solutions. Operations managers/human resources managers, in collaboration with gender equality officers Annually, to be finished in December
  #10In the annual employee survey, employees shall be asked about their opinions and experiences of the reconciliation of work and family life. If it is shown that the mechanism for better working hours has not attained the objective it is based on or the experience differs between genders, further analysis shall be made and measures taken. Operations managers/human resources managers Annually, to be finished in December
Keep employee overtime work within reasonable limits and eliminate gender-based differences #11: The number of overtime working hours of all employees shall be reviewed. Efforts shall be made to ensure that employee overtime work is kept within reasonable limits, in order to limit its negative effects on their private lives. If necessary, restructuring shall be carried out by reorganising projects or making other adjustments. Each ministry’s central administration Annually, in January
  #12: The number of overtime working hours of employees shall be reviewed by gender within each ministry and compared with the numbers from recent years. If a gender gap is revealed, further analysis shall be made and the need for action shall be evaluated.  Operations managers/human resources managers Annually, in January

IV. Gender-based violence, gender-based harassment and sexual harassment

All employees have the right to be treated with respect and not be subjected to gender-based or sexual harassment or violence.

Systematic efforts shall be made to create a culture within the Government Offices that is characterised by respect, in line with the Government Offices Human Resource Policy. This shall be done by introducing a procedural plan based on Act No 150/2020 on Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender, Act No 46/1980 on Working Environment, Health and Safety in Workplaces, and Regulation no. 1009/2015 on Measures against Bullying, Sexual Harassment, Gender-based Harassment and Violence in Workplaces.

The Government Offices aims to be a leader in taking action against gender-based violence, gender-based harassment and sexual harassment. All Government Offices employees will be offered the opportunity to attend courses on violence in intimate relationships.

Objective Action Responsibility Time frame
Make an effort to eliminate gender-based violence, gender-based harassment and sexual harassment #13: The Government Offices Policy and Action Plan Against Bullying, Gender-based Violence, Gender-Based Harassment and Sexual Harassment shall be revised and published in the Government Offices handbook and on the internal websites of the ministries. The ministries’ gender equality officers in cooperation with the human resources group The first half of 2021
#14: Education about gender-based violence, gender-based harassment and sexual harassment and the handling of such cases will be part of educational courses organised by the ministries’ gender equality officers when the Policy enters into force. It shall also be part of the training of newly recruited employees of the Government Offices. Gender equality officers of the ministries and the Government Offices Competence and Educational Centre

October 2021

Annually, to be finished in December
#15: Courses shall be held for those employees who, in keeping with the Policy and Action Plan, are to receive notifications of bullying, gender-based violence and gender-based or sexual harassment. Permanent Secretaries and general directors in cooperation with the ministries’ gender equality officers October 2021
Make an effort to eliminate gender-based violence #16: Education on violence in intimate relationships for ministry employees. The aim is to ensure that employees know the signs and effects of violence and can seek support in the workplace if they consider themselves to have been subjected to violence. Resources for those who have subjected others to violence will be introduced as well. The ministries’ gender equality officers  2022
 

V. Participation in committees, councils and boards

Systematic efforts shall be made to equalise the gender participation ratio in government and municipal committees, councils and boards. When appointing people to committees, councils and boards, care shall be taken to make the gender ratio as equal as possible and to ensure that the ratio of women or men is not under 40 % in the case of more than three representatives, in keeping with Article 28 of Act No 150/2020. This arrangement shall not prevent the nomination or appointment of people whose gender is registered as neutral in Registers Iceland; however, the ratio of women shall never be less than 40%.

Objective Action Responsibility Time frame
Make efforts to secure equal influence of the genders in society #17: When seeking nominations for government or municipal committees and councils, the provision of Article 28 of Act 150/2020, on participation in government and municipal committees, councils and boards, shall be cited. Nominations of men and women shall be specifically requested for each seat to be filled. If this is not done, explanations shall be requested. Ministers and Permanent Secretaries Always
 

VI. Ministries’ gender equality officers

Each ministry shall employ a gender equality officer with expert knowledge of gender equality matters, in keeping with Article 27 of Act No 150/2020. The gender equality officers oversee the implementation of the Government Offices Gender Equality Plan in their respective ministries and participate in the common projects of the Plan. Further provisions on the role of gender equality officers can be found in the operational rules.

Explanatory memorandum to the Directorate of Equality

The progress made through the Government Offices Gender Equality Plan shall be reported to the Directorate of Equality in accordance with the gender equality officers’ operational rules.

Period of validity and review

This Gender Equality Plan shall be valid for three years from its adoption. The gender equality officers shall initiate a review of the Government Offices Gender Equality Plan every three years.

Adopted by the meeting of the Permanent Secretaries on 10 February 2021.

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