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Ending pay secrecy to accelerate gender-pay equality! EP to vote on pay transparency directive


30 Mar 2023



Today, after a plenary debate, the Parliament is set to approve an agreement with EU Ministers on new legislation on a pay transparency directive. This is the S&Ds’ long-standing demand, as pay transparency is a necessary step to end gender-pay discrimination. The S&Ds are urging the Council to do its job, and approve the new EU directive on pay transparency as soon as possible. 

Women in the EU still earn, on average, 13 percent less per hour than men do. The gap is higher still in countries such as Latvia and Estonia – above 20 percent, or in Austria and Germany – above 18 percent.

The new EU rules will require all companies to disclose information that makes it easier for those working for the same employer to compare salaries. Companies with 100 or more employees will have to find solutions if the pay gap is larger than 5 percent. Recruiters will not be allowed to ask candidates about their current pay. This will help to break the pattern of pay inequalities.

S&D negotiators, Evelyn Regner and Marc Angel, have secured strong provisions on penalties and fines for non-compliance, which will be key to ensuring that companies actually take the new pay transparency rules seriously. The S&Ds also reinforced the role of social partners in the implementation of the directive. Finally, to fight the systematic lower pay in female-dominated sectors, the S&D negotiators insisted on provisions allowing cross-sector comparisons and the collection of more data.

Evelyn Regner MEP, S&D negotiator on pay transparency in the women’s rights and gender equality committee, said:

“I am very happy that we finally made it to the finale of our long legislative work, in which we, the progressives, took the lead from the start. Now, the member states must also approve the new EU directive on transparency.

“Transparency is essential in our efforts towards a more equal society. Without it, it is simply impossible to fight against pay discrimination. With these new EU rules, workers – and particularly women – will be better equipped to claim their rights to receive equal pay for the same work or work of equal value as men.

“Especially, the burden will not be on women, who have to go to court to prove pay discrimination, but rather on companies and employers to prove the contrary. All workers will be able to share information on their pay internally and externally to defend their right to equal pay. This means an effective ban on pay-secrecy clauses, which in itself is already going to improve the lives of all workers.”

Marc Angel MEP, S&D negotiator on pay transparency in the employment and social affairs committee, said:

“The fact that our sisters, mothers and daughters still don’t receive equal pay for equal work is a disgrace. Due to years of discrimination, the pension gap is even higher. Today, women over 65 receive a pension that is, on average, 30% lower than that of men. This is unfair. The pay transparency directive will accelerate the process towards pay and pension-gender equality.

“As S&Ds, we of course would have preferred that all companies – no matter their size – be included in the whole scope of the directive, meaning that all companies must take remedial measures if a gender pay gap exists. This was not possible. Nevertheless, we significantly lowered the threshold – from originally covering companies from 250 workers and upwards, to now only 100. Plus, we ensured that other tools in the directive apply to all companies.”


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