Establishing equal pay for equal work

Equal pay for equal work is one of the European Union’s founding principles. In line with EU law, people who have suffered pay discrimination can take legal action without fear of retaliation from their employer. 

EU countries must end all discrimination from their national rules and laws. The EU monitors the correct application and enforcement of EU law on equal pay in EU countries and supports them to properly implement existing rules.

In a 2014 recommendation the European Commission set out to strengthen the principle of equal pay between men and women, aiming to assist EU countries to find the right approach to ending pay discrimination and the gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap Action Plan

In order to further combat the gender pay gap and ensure the full application of the principle of equal pay between women and men, the Commission adopted the 'EU Action Plan 2017-2019: Tackling the gender pay gap' in November 2017. The Action Plan takes a holistic approach and addresses the various root causes of the gender pay gap. It includes a total of 24 action points that have been distributed under 8 main strands of action, namely:

  • Improving the application of the equal pay principle;
  • Combatting segregation in occupations and sectors;
  • Breaking the glass ceiling: addressing vertical segregation;
  • Tackling the care penalty;
  • Better valorising women's skills, efforts and responsibilities;
  • Uncovering inequalities and stereotypes;
  • Alerting and informing about the gender pay gap; and
  • Enhancing partnerships to tackle the gender pay gap.

The actions are to be implemented by the end of the mandate of the current Commission in cooperation with various stakeholders and Member States.