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Legislation and equality plans


In Austria, the National Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Labour Market includes a compulsory requirement for companies to publish equal pay reports. Companies have to draw up staff income reports every two years. The reports must show the number of men and women classified under each category as well as the average or median income, adjusted for working time, for women and men in the respective category. The goal is to create income transparency and take measures to reduce gender pay gaps. The equal pay reports are compulsory for companies with more than 1000 employees from 2011 for the year 2010, for companies with more than 500 employees since 2012, for companies with more than 250 employees in 2013 and with more than 150 employees in 2014. Another measure from the National Action Plan is the compulsory indication of wage in job advertisements since 2011. As from 2012, the failure of indicating the wage in job advertisements may be penalized.


On 22 April 2012 Belgium adopted a law on reducing the gender pay gappdf. According to this law, differences in pay and labour costs between men and women should be outlined in companies’ annual audit (“bilan social”). These annual audits will be transmitted to the national bank and this information will be publicly available. Moreover, the law stipulates that every two years firms with over 50 workers should establish a comparative analysis of the wage structure of female and male employees. If this analysis shows that women earn less than men the firm will be obliged to produce an action plan. Finally, in case discrimination is suspected, women can turn to their firm’s mediator who will establish whether there is indeed a pay differential and if so, will try to find a compromise with the employer.


In Estonia, an action plan to reduce the gender pay gap was approved in 2012. There are five main streams of actions: 1) improving the implementation of the existing Gender Equality Act (e.g. improvement of the collection of statistics, awareness raising, support of the work of the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner etc.), 2) improving the family, work and private life reconciliation (e.g. work with employers); 3) promoting gender mainstreaming, especially in the field of education; 4) reducing the gender segregation; 5) analysing the organizational practices and pay systems in the public sector, improving the situation where necessary. It is emphasized that the gender pay gap is a complex issue and there is a need to implement simultaneous measures in all relevant fields.


In Finland, labour market solutions have varyingly used gender equality and equal pay allowances to support raising the pay level in female-dominated and low-paid sectors. In 2007–2010 the state and local government sectors applied equal pay allowances. The state underpinned the pay solution of the local government sector by allocating increased central government transfers to local government.

In Finland, a Government's Action Plan for Gender Equality 2012-2015 includes the key measures by which the government promotes equality between women and men and combats gender-based discrimination. One of its measures concerns the publishing of pay survey analyses in central government. The analyses may be published in annual reports, in HR accounts or in other HR reporting contexts. The Government will also commission a study on the impact of tax policy and income transfer solutions on the economic equality of women and men.

In Finland the tripartite Equal Pay Programme for 2006 -2015 aims to reduce the gender gap from around 20 % to 15 % and to implement the principle of ‘equal pay for work of equal value´. The programme includes actions on desegregation, the development of pay systems, measures to support women`s careers, and calls for the social partners to establish agreements to reduce the pay gap.


The French government has hardened existing sanctions against firms with 50 employees and above that do not respect their obligations regarding gender equality (decree n°2012-1408 of 18 December 2012). Big firms (with 300 employees and above) have to negotiate an action plan; others (with 50 employees and above) have to at least define an action plan and send it to State Services. The topic of remunerations has to be included in negotiations or in action plans, and a website has been created to help small and medium size firms comply with the law. For the first time, two firms have been condemned in April 2013 for not complying to the legislation on equal pay.


In Lithuania, the gender equality policies are set out in the National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men for 2010-2014. A considerable number of measures are targeted towards improving the situation for women and men in the labour market. One of the priorities is reducing the gender pay gap, which includes actions to increase salaries in female-dominated sectors such as education, arts and culture and social work.


In 2009, a national action plan for equality between women and men for 2009-2014 was adopted in Luxembourg. Among all the actions planned, measures to overcome pay inequality are highlighted: indirect measures such as the generalisation of “Girls’day-Boys’day” (“GD-BD”) in order to break gender stereotypes, or direct measures such as the introduction of the LOGIB tool or the publication of a guide on gender-equal pay.


In Portugal, employers (with the exception of public authorities and entities and employers of domestic service workers), are obliged to annually collect information on the Personnel Records of the enterprise to the Ministry responsible for labour and employment, regarding several aspects of their working conditions, including remunerations. The Personnel Records are submitted to the labour inspection authorities (ACT); trade unions or workers committees (upon request in due time); employer representatives present in the Standing Committee for Social Dialogue (CPCS). But first the Personnel Records must be made available to employees.

On 18 March 2014 the Council of Ministers adopted a Resolution No. 18/2014 pdfwhich sets the aims to discuss the gender pay gap with the social partners. Furthermore, the Council of Ministers prepares, every three years, a report on the salaries paid to women and men in state-owned companies; develops concrete measures to be included in the gender equality plans of state-owned companies; encourages private enterprises with more than 25 employees to conduct a wage analysis by gender and set out strategies to correct unjustified differences; provides companies with an electronic tool that allows to identify and measure unexplained wage differences by gender; and rewards companies with practices of equal pay.


In Spain, equal pay for equal work or for work of equal value is guarantee under national legislation, not only as a general equality provision under the Constitutional Act but also as a specific rule under the 2007 Gender Equality Act pdf (594 kB) Choose translations of the previous link , and by the Law on the Workers Statute. Companies with over 250 employees are obliged to formulate and implement gender equality plans, which must be negotiated with workers´ legal representatives. Equality plans may cover different issues with direct and/or indirect impact on the gender pay gap, including inter alia, access to employment, occupational classification, remuneration, etc.

In addition, a business equality label is yearly granted by the Secretariat of State for Social Services and Equality to distinguish employers for outstanding achievements in the implementation of equal treatment and equal opportunities policies between women and men. Establishing neutral remuneration criteria and job classification systems free from gender bias are some of the subjects reviewed and evaluated by the Evaluation Committee. Furthermore, a Network of companies granted with this business equality label has been created for the share and exchange of information and good practices on gender equality in the workplace.


In Sweden, the 2009 Discrimination Act pdfrequires employers and employees to endeavour to equalise and prevent differences in pay and other terms of employment between women and men who perform work which is to be regarded as equal or of equal value. They are also supposed to promote equal pay growth opportunities for women and men. Finally, the Act requires employers to carry out a pay survey every three years in order to detect, remedy, and prevent unjustified differences between women and men’s pay, terms and conditions of employment, and draw up an equal pay action plan (if employing 25 or more workers).

United Kingdom

In the UK higher education sector a joint working party on equal pay was established with the aim of tackling the wide-ranging pay discrimination identified in a report on pay discrimination. This covers all categories of workers in higher education including manual, administrative and teaching staff. A national enabling agreement and national guidelines for local implementation have been agreed.

In the UK, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has established a framework for equal pay reviews in public sector.

In UK, the Equality Act (2010) places a statutory duty on all public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment and promote equality of opportunity between men and women.