LONDON — Iceland will be the first country in the world to make employers prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality, the Nordic nation’s government said Wednesday — International Women’s Day.
The government said it will introduce legislation to parliament this month, requiring all employers with more than 25 staff to obtain certification to prove they give equal pay for work of equal value.
The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.
‘‘Equal rights are human rights,’’ he said. ‘‘We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that.’’
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.
Viglundsson said some people had argued the law imposes unneeded bureaucracy on firms, and is not necessary because the pay gap is closing.
‘‘It is a burden to put on companies to have to comply with a law like this,’’ he acknowledged. ‘‘But we put such burdens on companies all the time when it comes to auditing your annual accounts or turning in your tax report.
‘‘You have to dare to take new steps, to be bold in the fight against injustice.’’