Slow Going to Implement Equal Pay Certification

equal pay certification

Just under half of the companies that were required to obtain equal pay certification by the end of 2019 according to Iceland’s new equal pay legislation have done so. The legislation, which was championed around the world, requires Icelandic companies with over 25 employees to prove they are paying men and women equally.

As of the end of 2019, of the 269 companies and institutions that were required to obtain the certification, only 134 had done so. While the legislation applies to some 147,000 workers on Iceland’s labour market, currently only 60,000 are covered by the certification.

The legislation gave companies varying deadlines to obtain the certification based on their number of employees. All companies with more than 25 employees are required to have the certification by the end of 2022.

Read more about Iceland’s equal pay legislation which went into effect in 2018.

Central Bank and Financial Supervisory Authority Merge

Central Bank of Iceland

The Central Bank of Iceland and the Financial Supervisory Authority officially merged into a single institution as of the beginning of this year. The Central Bank is now responsible for financial supervision entrusted by law to the Financial Supervisory Authority.

The Central Bank’s operations are housed in two main locations: Kalkofnsvegur 1 and Katrínartún 2 in Reykjavík. The institution plans to eventually house all operations at Kalkofnsvegur, and plans for the physical merger are already underway.

The Central Bank had 170 staff members and the Financial Supervisory Authority 120. Now all 290 are employees of the new Central Bank.

Puffins in Iceland and Wales Spotted Using Tools

puffin scratching tool

A puffin in Iceland and one in Wales were spotted using sticks to scratch an itch – a form of tool use that has never before been seen in wild birds. According to researchers, recording the behaviour at two breeding colonies 1,700km (1,050mi) apart suggests this type of tool use may be widespread among certain types of seabirds, whose “physical cognition may have been underestimated.”

An Atlantic puffin was filmed at its breeding colony on Grímsey Island in North Iceland picking up a stick in its beak and using it to scratch an itch. This incident was caught on camera some four years after an Atlantic puffin on Skomer Island in Wales was observed using a stick to scratch its back. To date, using a tool for scratching is a behaviour that has only been observed in primates and elephants.

“Our findings suggest that while this behaviour is rare it is not restricted to a single population,” the report, authored by Annette L. Fayet, Erpur Snær Hansen, and Dora Biro, reads.

As for what led to the behaviour, the report’s authors suggest the puffins could have been attempting to get rid of seabird ticks, which plague seabird colonies, as “the stick may have helped with scratching or dislodging them, perhaps more effectively than the beak.”

The researchers state their findings warrant further studies on seabird cognition and tool use among wild animals, which could ultimately help in “understanding the evolutionary history of our own species.”

The full report and videos of the Grímsey puffin are available on PNAS’s website.

Guðni Th. Announces Campaign for Re-election

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson.

As his four-year term draws to a close, Icelandic President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has announced he will run for re-election. Guðni made the announcement during the President’s traditional New Year address.

Guðni Th. was elected President of Iceland in June 2016 and has enjoyed consistent popularity, with approval ratings of 77-85% throughout most of his term, RÚV reports. Guðni is a historian, and prior to being elected president was a docent at the University of Iceland. It’s not only his performance of official duties that contributes to his popularity. Despite his busy schedule, Guðni finds time for mountain-climbing, picking up trash on the presidential residence, and even the occasional dip in the ocean.

In his New Year address, the President thanked Icelanders for their support as well as allowing him to have privacy in his family life, something “[h]eads of state in most other countries cannot necessarily expect.” He emphasised the need to act on the climate crisis, saying it “respects no borders, and we must respond to it,” yet urged Icelanders to look to the future with hope.

A full English translation of the address is available on the President’s website.

The upcoming presidential election will be held on June 27. If no candidacy against Guðni is announced, he will be reappointed President without an election.