Commission makes strong move towards ending gender pay gap

Employees will have the right to compensation for wage discrimination

Photo: EU The pay gap between men and women in the EU remains at 14.1%.

Guided by the idea that equal work deserves equal pay, the Commission is taking a decisive step in terms of transparency on who receives how much and whether the employer treats its workers fairly.

The gender pay gap in the EU remains at 14.1%, according to the latest Eurostat findings and lack of pay transparency is one of the key obstacles to enforcing equal pay right.

The proposal on pay transparency tabled by the Commission on Thursday, which is political priority of EC President Uesula von der Leyen, sets out pay transparency measures, such as pay information for job seekers, a right to know the pay levels for workers doing the same work, as well as gender pay gap reporting obligations for big companies.

For equal pay, you need transparency, von der Leyen stressed noting that women must know whether their employers treat them fairly. When this is not the case, they must have the power to fight back and get what they deserve, EC President added.

The suggested rules also reinforce the instruments for workers to claim their rights and facilitates access to justice. Managers will not be allowed to ask job seekers for their pay history and they will have to provide pay related anonymised data upon employee request. Employees will also have the right to compensation for wage discrimination. 

The proposal for a directive takes into account as well the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on both, employers but also on women, who have been hit in particular hard, will increase awareness about pay conditions within the company and give more tools to employers and workers to address the pay discrimination at work.

A number of substantial factors contributing to the existing pay gap and is particularly relevant during pandemic, which is reinforcing gender inequalities and puts women into greater risk of poverty exposure, will be addressed.

Pay transparency will empower workers to enforce their right to equal pay by giving them access to the necessary information on pay, in compliance with GDPR, so that they can evaluate whether or not they are subject to discrimination compared to their colleagues of the other sex doing the same work or work of equal value.

Equality bodies and workers' representatives will be authorised to act on behalf of the workers who experience pay discrimination. The proposal will allow collective claims on equal pay. There will be full compensation for victims of discrimination and remedies that address structural discrimination or bias in organisations.

The suggested measures trigger action to address the systemic undervaluation of women's work at employer level. Companies with more than 250 employees will be required to report on pay gaps between female and male workers in their organization. When that report shows a high risk of unjustified pay inequalities, remedial action will need to be taken jointly by employers and workers' representatives.

It is high-time both women and men are empowered to claim their right, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Vera Jourová said. She explained that the Commission wants to empower job seekers and workers with tools to demand fair salary and to know and claim their rights.

According to her, employers must become more transparent about their pay policies. “No more double standards, no more excuses,” she urged.

Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, underlined that the pay transparency proposal is a major step toward the enforcement of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between women and men and will empower workers to enforce their right to equal pay and lead to an end to gender bias in pay.

“It will also allow for the detection, acknowledgment and addressing of an issue that we wanted to eradicate since the adoption of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Women deserve due recognition, equal treatment and value for their work and the Commission is committed to ensuring that workplaces meet this objective,” she emphasised.

The proposal will be forwarded to the European Parliament and the Council for approval and once adopted, EU countries will have two years to transpose the directive into national law and communicate the relevant texts to the Commission.



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