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4 November: Marking the EU’s Equal Pay Day - Time for Action to Close the Gender Pay Gap

[Brussels, 4 November 2020] In the EU, women are paid on average 16% less than men. This equals two months’ salary less than men per year. This is enough. We need action now! 4 November marks the EU’s Equal Pay Day that aims ‘to raise awareness that female workers in Europe still earn on average less than their male colleagues.’

The EWL supports the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) action to put pressure on the European Commission to come forward with the promised legal framework on pay transparency.

The ETUC have published a proposed shadow directive to help European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to swiftly meet her promise when she announced she would introduce a Directive on Pay Transparency, within the first 100 days of her mandate. Commissioned by experts in European labour law, the ETUC hopes the Commission ‘can take inspiration’ from this Model Proposal for a Directive on strengthening the principle of equal pay between women and men through pay transparency.

However, the legislative proposal by the Commission has been delayed until mid-December, which according to the ETUC, means that ‘the EU’s gender pay gap won’t be eliminated until the next century at the current pace of change’. Without action now, women will have to wait until 2104 to receive equal pay without action to speed-up the current pace of change.

The ETUC’s shadow directive contains 18 articles and includes provisions to:

  • Ban pay secrecy clauses in contracts so that workers can discuss pay
  • Require release of information on job evaluation for the purpose of establishing equal pay for work of equal value
  • Make all employers produce pay information audits and annual action plans on pay equality
  • Support trade unions to negotiate with employers to tackle the pay gap

‘We welcome the ETUC’s very timely and important shadow directive’, stated Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General. ‘Women’s low pay associated with the sectors where they work, particularly as frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of how far we have yet to go. We cannot wait any longer; there can be no more excuses to delay legislation on pay transparency.’ She said, highlighting that the 2020 Gender Equality Index, launched last week by EIGE shows, ‘We will continue to progress on equality between women and men far too slowly if no decisive action is taken. Women will not wait another century – or even another generation for equal pay’.

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