Pay gap be­tween men and women: MEPs call for bind­ing mea­sures to close it

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

De­spite the EU’s 2006 Direc­tive on equal­ity be­tween men and women in the labour mar­ket, dif­fer­ences in their pay per­sist and are even grow­ing say MEPs in a non-leg­isla­tive res­o­lu­tion voted last week. As mem­ber states did not take the op­por­tu­nity to up­date their laws on equal op­por­tu­ni­ties and treat­ment, MEPs urged the EU Com­mis­sion to ta­ble fresh leg­is­la­tion “pro­vid­ing for more ef­fec­tive means of su­per­vis­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion and en­force­ment in mem­ber states.”

The res­o­lu­tion was ap­proved by 344 votes to 156, with 68 ab­sten­tions.

“Equal pay for equal work is a fair prin­ci­ple that must be val­ued by all em­ploy­ers. To­day, this is not the case, which is why we need bet­ter leg­is­la­tion. How­ever, the overuse of the le­gally am­bigu­ous term “gen­der” in the fi­nal text as ap­proved to­day made it im­pos­si­ble for me to vote in favour of my own re­port”, said rap­por­teur Anna Zaborska (EPP-SK), who ab­stained.

EU mem­ber states are of­ten slow to ap­ply and en­force the equal pay prin­ci­ple and the gen­der pay and pen­sion gaps still av­er­age 16.4% and 38.5%, re­spec­tively, across the EU, ac­cord­ing to Euro­stat’s 2013 fig­ures 2013, with sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween coun­tries. Only in the Nether­lands and France does the Direc­tive’s trans­po­si­tion into na­tional law ap­pear to be “suf­fi­ciently clear and cor­rect”, ac­cord­ing to an EU Com­mis­sion re­port on the ap­pli­ca­tion of the 2006 Direc­tive. The gen­der pay gap is widest in Estonia, Aus­tria, Ger­many, the Czech Re­pub­lic and Slo­vakia and nar­row­est in Poland, Italy, Malta and Slove­nia.

In view of the lack of progress in clos­ing the gen­der pay gap, MEPs pro­pose manda­tory pay au­dits for large stock ex­change listed com­pa­nies and pos­si­ble sanc­tions at EU level in cases of non­com­pli­ance, such as ex­clud­ing com­pa­nies from EU bud­get-funded pub­lic pro­cure­ment of goods and ser­vices or financial penal­ties for em­ploy­ers who do not re­spect wage equal­ity. Fur­ther­more, the res­o­lu­tion calls for: • har­monised neu­tral job clas­si­fi­ca­tion and eval­u­a­tion;

• ob­jec­tive cri­te­ria for com­par­ing work of “equal value”;

• wage trans­parency (to re­veal bias against women and pay dis­crim­i­na­tion);

• free le­gal aid for vic­tims dis­crim­i­na­tion;

• the pro­hi­bi­tion of any dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity or gen­der reassignment;

• the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of work and pri­vate life (pre­vent­ing un­fair dis­missal dur­ing preg­nancy; and,

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• pos­i­tive mea­sures to step up the in­volve­ment of women in de­ci­sion mak­ing.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment has called for fur­ther ac­tion to make equal pay rules more ef­fec­tive in res­o­lu­tions voted in 2008, 2012 and 2013.

The gen­der pay gap (GPG) ex­ists even though women do bet­ter at school and uni­ver­si­ties than men, as women make up 60% of univer­sity grad­u­ates in the EU, ac­cord­ing to Euro­stat.

In all, 34.9% of women work part time, but only 8.6% of men, while women in the EU re­ceive on av­er­age 38.5% less in pen­sions than men, be­cause in ad­di­tion to the GPG, a higher pro­por­tion of women work part-time, earn lower hourly wages, and spend fewer years in em­ploy­ment.

Fi­nally, the em­ploy­ment rate for women in the EU is 58.8%, com­pared to 69.4% for men.

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