Measuring the gender pay gap
The largest county administrative board in the west of Sweden, Vastra Gotaland, carried out a gender wage survey of all 650 employees in 15 sections. It was found that women earned less on average in equal jobs than men. Steps were taken to remedy this situation.
Logib, an online tool, has been developed in Switzerland to enable companies to analyse pay and staff structures and verify if equal pay exists between male and female employees. A report analysing actions taken to tackle the gender pay gap is also foreseen.
Legislation and equality plans
In Austria, the national action plan for gender equality in the labour market requires companies to publish equal pay reports. Companies have to draw up staff income reports every 2 years.
The French government has hardened existing sanctions against firms with over 50 employees that do not respect their obligations regarding gender equality. 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.
In most countries collective agreements are the most important mechanisms for wage setting. Social partners can use collective bargaining to uncover pay differences or prevent them from emerging in the first place. The experience across Europe is that centrally negotiated collective agreements can work in favour of equal pay, whereas it is harder to achieve in the case of decentralised bargaining.
In Germany, the federal ministry for family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth financially supports a research project which deals with the impact of collective bargaining on the gender pay gap. The project works out together with the social partners how the gender wage gap can be reduced through the collective bargaining process.
In Finland, separately negotiated adjustments to pay scales have been put in place. Gender pay has been specifically placed on the bargaining agenda within the national pay agreements through an ‘equality allowance’.
Belgium was the first country in Europe to organise an equal pay day in 2005. The campaign focused the attention of the public and of policymakers on the pay gap between women and men. Since then, the equal pay day has taken place every year.
In the Czech Republic, an equal pay day has been organised by business and professional women every year since 2010.
The role of civil society organisations
Civil society organisations, often in partnership with trade unions and government equality bodies, have a key role to play in raising awareness about gender inequalities. In many cases, the gender pay gap is part of the broader objective to promote equality in the workplace and combat discrimination.
Civil society organisations are frequently involved in awareness raising campaigns such as the annual equal pay day.