18 August 2017 #Employment
In Norway, details of individuals’ net income, net assets and amount of tax paid are all accessible to the general public. An individual may simply use their national ID number to access the data on the tax authority’s website. Former economics editor, Tom Staavi suggests the rationale behind the system is that Norwegians pay a higher level of income tax compared to other European countries. Tax payers therefore want reassurance that others are also paying their dues.
There are two caveats to the searches. Firstly, searches are not anonymous. The search subject can find out exactly who has accessed their information, which could lead to some awkward conversations! The second limitation is that individuals are limited to 500 searches a month.
This high level of transparency has had a significant consequence – Norway’s gender pay gap is among the narrowest in the world. Every October when the new tax lists are released, the media will publish highlights including the gender pay gap in various professions. The lack of secrecy means a gender pay gap is less likely to arise and if it does, it is much more likely to be addressed immediately.
It remains to be seen whether the UK will adopt a more proactive approach to tackling gender pay gap issues but it is clear that we currently have a lot of work to do to catch up with the Nordic countries.