European Union External Action

The Commission marks Women’s Day by proposing measures to ensure equal pay for equal work

08/03/2021 - 15:15
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The legislative proposal focuses on measures to improve pay transparency for workers and facilitate access to justice for victims of pay discrimination. This comes as COVID exacerbated gender inequality on the workplace

Ahead of International Women’s Day, the Commission presented a proposal to ensure that men and women in the EU get equal pay for equal work. In the midst of a health and social crisis which has disproportionately hit women, the Commission doubled down on its efforts to push back against pay discrimination and enforce equal pay at EU level.


The legislative proposal focuses on two key elements: measures to ensure pay transparency and better access to justice for victims of pay discrimination. The Commission proposes that employers make public the starting pay level in the job vacancy notice or before the job interview.


Under this new proposal, workers will be able to ask their employer information on individual and average pay levels, broken down by sex, for employees doing the same work. Companies 250+ staff will be required to publish figures on their gender pay gap, if any. The proposal also envisages compensation for workers who are victims of pay discrimination and fines for companies that violate the equal pay rule.


The EU has intensified its efforts in improving equal pay in light of the widening gap between male and female workers because of the pandemic. The Commission’s 2021 report on gender equality shows that women are employed disproportionately in sectors that are worst affected by the health crisis such as retail, hospitality, care and domestic work. At the same time, female workers are also overrepresented in frontline public services such as health and social care.


To mark International Women’s Day, on Thursday 4 March EP President Sassoli and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen participated in a conference organised by the European Parliament committee on women’s rights and gender equality under the title “We are strong: Women leading the fight against COVID-19”.


On 8 March, the European Parliament’s Liaison Office in London is hosting a webinar on “Female leaders in times of crisis”. Participants will include the EP’s Vice-President Heidi Hautala, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee in the House of Commons and Layla Naffa, Director of Programmes of the Arab Women Organisation of Jordan. The event will be moderated by Megha Mohan, BBC Gender & Identity Correspondent.

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