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Binding pay transparency proposal has finally made it! First and necessary step to end the gender pay gap


05 Mar 2021


Social Europe & Jobs

Socialists and Democrats welcome the proposal by the European Commission for a Directive to introduce pay transparency measures - a first and necessary step to end pay differences between men and women which remain too high: on average, women in the EU earn 14.1% less than men in comparable positions.

Delayed at least three times, and finally presented today, against pressure from business and employers organisations, the Directive includes binding, legislative measures that the S&Ds have been demanding for a very long time. The Directive will apply to all employers, in both private and public sectors, and all workers. It allows to create pay transparency in companies, impose sanctions for non-compliance, and give compensation to those affected. The companies will be obliged to report on their gender pay gap and redress any unwarranted imbalances; the workers will have the right to receive information about pay, and recruiters will be forbidden from asking candidates about their current pay to avoid reproducing gendered structures.

The S&Ds will analyse the proposal thoroughly, and strive to further reinforce it during the legislative process to strengthen trade unions’ involvement and collective bargaining. 

Heléne Fritzon, MEP and S&D vice-president responsible for a new social Europe of equality, cohesion, and strong rights, said:

“A large majority of EU countries have no legal framework on pay transparency. With new proposed pay transparency measures, it will be possible to identify the possible gender bias in pay structure or insufficient remuneration. The new measures will allow workers to detect pay discrimination and claim their rights. This will benefit all workers, not just women.

“However, to close the gender pay gap, it will also require fighting gender stereotypes, in schools already, and increasing women’s participation in the labour market including in sectors dominated by men, like digital economy.”    

Agnes Jongerius, S&D MEP and spokesperson on employment and social affairs, said:

“Ursula von der Leyen promised to present binding rules on pay transparency within the first 100 days in office. A year later, she finally delivers on her promise. Better late than never. Europeans must finally receive equal pay, for equal work or work of equal value.

“It is good news that according to the Commission’s proposal, employers will not be allowed to ask job applicants for their recent salaries. If this becomes law, it will help to break the pattern of pay inequalities.

“Business and employers organisations tried to again postpone today’s announcement, arguing the pandemic is not a good time for such a proposal. Nothing could be more wrong! We need to double the efforts to end the gender pay gap, and support women’s economic empowerment not despite, but precisely because of the pandemic, which is further increasing inequalities and disproportionally affecting women, and especially those with low-paid and precarious jobs. Fair minimum wages in the whole of the EU, revision of the Directive on equal opportunities, the equal treatment of men and women at work, and the adoption of the Women on Boards Directive must be the next steps to take.”