January 2, 2018 6:33 pm

Iceland becomes first country to legalize equal pay between men and women

WATCH ABOVE: How does Iceland's legislated pay equity work?

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Iceland has become the first country in the world to mandate that women receive the same pay as their male colleagues for doing the same work.

The new law makes it illegal for employers to pay male workers more, and requires companies of 25 staff or more to prove they are paying men and women equally.

READ MORE: Iceland to become first country to make companies prove they offer equal pay

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The bill was tabled and passed last spring, but only took effect on New Year’s Day.

Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies.

Companies will face fines if they can’t prove that men and women are receiving the same salary for the same job.

READ MORE: What’s the best (and worst) city to be a woman in Canada?

The new legislation was supported by Iceland’s centre-right government, as well as the opposition, in a parliament where nearly 50 per cent of all members are women.

The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.

In October, thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2:38 p.m., and demonstrated outside parliament to protest the gender pay gap.

Women’s rights groups calculate that after that time each day, women are working for free.

WATCH: Icelandic women perform famous ‘thunderclap’ cheer during gender pay gap protest

For nearly a decade, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked Iceland as the most gender-equal country in the world, followed by Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden.

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