>The European Parliament adopted a legislative initiative report recommending a revision of existing legislation on equal pay. In the European Union, women earn on average 15% less and up to 25 % less in the private sector. In spite of the legislation in force for more than thirty years, the pay gap between women and men has been persistent, still varying between 4 and 25 % among the Member States with no narrowing trend, states the report adopted by 590 votes four, 23 against and 46 abstentions.
>The report was adopted under a special procedure (rule 39 of the rules of procedure) where the European Parliament calls on the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal and where the report must obtain an absolute majority to be adopted) MEPs request the Commission to submit to Parliament by 31 December 2009, a legislative proposal on the revision of the existing legislation, following different recommendations
>The report suggests the introduction of obligatory regular pay audits for enterprises and the publication of their results. Recommendations also include a clear definition of concepts such as gender pay gap and direct and indirect discrimination as well as establishing job evaluations complying with the principle of equality between men and women available for all stakeholders.
European Parliament resolution of 18 November 2008 with recommendations to the Commission on the application of the principle of equal pay for men and women
>1. Requests the Commission to submit to Parliament by 31 December 2009, on the basis of Article 141 of the EC Treaty, a legislative proposal on the revision of the existing legislation relating to the application of the principle of equal pay for men and women , following the detailed recommendations annexed;
>DETAILED RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE CONTENT OF THE PROPOSAL REQUESTED
Recommendation 1: DEFINITIONS
Directive 2006/54/EC contains a definition of equal pay, by copying the provisions of Directive 75/117/EEC. To have more precise categories as tools for dealing with the gender pay gap (GPG) it is important to define the different concepts more precisely, such as:
|-||GPG, the definition of which must not cover gross hourly pay alone;|
|-||Direct pay discrimination;|
|-||Indirect pay discrimination;|
|-||Remuneration, the definition of which should cover any net wages and salaries as well as any work-related financial entitlements and in-kind benefits;|
|-||Pension gap - in different pillars of pension systems, i.e. in pay as you go systems, occupational pensions (as a continuation of the pay gap after retirement).|
Recommendation 2: ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION AND TRANSPARENCY OF RESULTS
2.1. The lack of information and awareness among employers and employees about existing or possible pay gaps within their company weakens the implementation of the principle enshrined in the Treaty and in existing legislation.
2.2. Acknowledging the lack of accurate statistical data and the existing lower pay rates for women especially across professions traditionally dominated by women, Member States should take full account of the gender pay gap in their social policies and treat it as a serious problem.
2.3. It is therefore essential that regular pay audits, as well as the publication of their results, are made compulsory within companies (e.g. in companies with at least 20 employees). The same requirement must also apply to information on remuneration in addition to pay.
2.4. Employers should provide employees and their representatives with results in the form of wage statistics, broken down by gender. This data should be compiled at sectoral and national level in each Member State.
2.5. Member States and the Commission should improve statistics and add comparable data on the part-time gender pay gap and the gender pension gap.
2.6. Those statistics should be coherent, comparable and complete aiming at abolishing discriminatory elements in pay connected with the organisation and classification of work.
Recommendation 3: WORK EVALUATION AND JOB CLASSIFCATION
3.1. The concept of the value of work must be based on interpersonal skills or responsibility emphasising quality of work, with the aim of promoting equal opportunities between women and men and should not be marked by a stereotyped approach unfavourable to women, for example putting the emphasis on physical strength rather than on interpersonal skills or responsibility. Women must therefore be provided with information, assistance and/or training in wage negotiations, job classification and pay-scaling. It must be possible for sectors and companies to be asked to examine whether their job classification systems reflect the gender dimension in the required manner, and to make the necessary corrections,
3.2. The Commission's initiative should invite Member States to introduce job classification complying with the principle of equality between women and men, enabling both employers and workers to identify possible pay discrimination based on a biased pay-scale definition. Respecting national laws and traditions concerning industrial relations system remains important. Such elements of work evaluation and classification should also be transparent and be made available to all stakeholders and to labour inspectorates and equality bodies,
3.3. Member States should carry out a thorough assessment centred on professions dominated by women,
3.4. A gender-neutral job evaluation should be based on new systems for classifying and organising staff and work and on professional experience and productivity assessed above all in qualitative terms, for use as a source of data and assessment grids for determining pay, with due regard to the principle of comparability.
Recommendation 4: EQUALITY BODIES
Equality promotion and monitoring bodies should play a greater role in diminishing GPG. The bodies should be empowered to monitor, report, and, where possible, enforce gender equality legislation more effectively and more independently. Article 20 of Directive 2006/54/EC should be revised so as to enhance the bodies' mandate by:
|-||supporting and advising victims of pay discrimination;|
|-||providing independent surveys concerning the pay gap;|
|-||publishing independent reports and making recommendations on any issue relating to pay discrimination (direct and indirect);|
|-||legal powers to bring wage discrimination cases to court;|
|-||providing special training for the social partners and for lawyers, judges and ombudsmen based on a toolbox of analytical instruments and targeted measures to be used either when drawing up contracts or when checking whether rules and policies to address the pay gap are being implemented.|
Recommendation 5: SOCIAL DIALOGUE
Further scrutiny of collective agreements and applicable pay scales and job classification schemes are necessary, mainly concerning the treatment of part-time workers and workers with other atypical work arrangements or extra payments/bonuses including payments in kind (more often given to men than women). Such scrutiny should cover not only primary but also secondary working conditions and occupational social security schemes (rules on leave, pension schemes, company cars, childcare arrangements, flexible working time, etc.). Member States, while respecting national law, collective agreements or practice, should encourage social partners to introduce gender-neutral job classifications, enabling both employers and employees to identify possible pay discrimination based on a biased pay-scale definition.
Recommendation 6: PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION
Specific reference should be made to pay discrimination in Article 26 (on prevention of discrimination) of Directive 2006/54/EC, with a view to ensuring that Member States, with the involvement of the social partners and equal opportunity organisations, adopt:
|-||specific measures relating to training and job classification, aimed at the vocational-training system and designed to remove and prevent discrimination in training and classification and in the economic valuation of skills,|
|-||specific policies to make it possible to reconcile work with family and personal life, covering childcare and other care services, flexible work organisation and hours, and maternity, paternity, parental and family leave, with specific provision for paternity leave and the protection thereof and for parental leave with financial cover for both parents,|
|-||concrete affirmative actions (under Article 141(4) of the EC Treaty) to redress the pay gap and gender segregation, to be given effect by the social partners and equal opportunity organisations at various levels, both contractual and sectoral, such as: promoting pay agreements to combat GPG, investigations in relation to equal pay, setting of qualitative and quantitative targets and benchmarking, exchange of best practice,|
|-||a clause in public contracts requiring respect for gender equality and equal pay.|
Recommendation 7: GENDER MAINSTREAMING
Gender mainstreaming should be enhanced by including in Article 29 of Directive 2006/54/EC precise guidelines for the Member States concerning the principle of equal pay and closing the gender pay gap. The Commission should gear itself to providing assistance to the Member States and to stakeholders as regards practical measures to bridge the gender pay gap by means of the following:
|-||devising reporting schemes for the purposes of assessing pay gaps between men and women,|
|-||creating a data bank containing information concerning changes to the systems for the classification and the organisation of workers,|
|-||collating and disseminating the results of experiments relating to the reform of work organisation,|
|-||devising specific guidelines for the monitoring of pay differentials within the context of collective bargaining, to be made available on an internet site translated into various languages and accessible to all,|
|-||distributing information and guidelines on practical means (particularly for SMEs) of redressing the pay gap, including national or sectoral collective agreements.|
Recommendation 8: SANCTIONS
8.1. The legislation in this field is for different reasons evidently less effective and, bearing in mind that the whole problem cannot be solved by legislation alone, the Commission and Member States should reinforce the existing legislation with appropriate types of sanctions.
8.2. It is important that Member States take the necessary measures to ensure that infringement of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value is subject to appropriate sanctions according to the legal provisions in force.
8.3. It is recalled that under Directive 2006/54/EC, Member States are already obliged to provide compensation or reparation (Article 18), as well as penalties (Article 25) which are "effective, proportionate and dissuasive". However, these provisions are not sufficient to avoid infringement of the equal pay principle. For this reason, it is proposed to conduct a study on the feasibility, effectiveness and impact of launching possible sanctions such as:
|-||compensation or reparation, which should not be limited by fixing a prior upper limit;|
|-||penalties, which must include the payment of compensation to the victim;|
|-||administrative fines (for example in the event of failure of notification or of compulsory communication or unavailability of analysis and evaluation of wage statistics disaggregated by gender (according to Recommendation 2)) requested by labour inspectorates or the competent equality bodies;|
|-||disqualification from public benefits, subsidies (including EU funding managed by Member States) and public procurement procedures, as already provided for by Directives 2004/17/EC(1) and 2004/18/EC(2) concerning the procurement procedure.|
|-||identification of offenders, which should be made public.|
Recommendation 9: STREAMLINING OF EU REGULATION AND EU POLICY
9.1. One area for urgent action concerns the fact that a wage penalty appears to be linked to working part-time. This requires an evaluation and possible revision of Council Directive 97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 concerning the Framework Agreement on part-time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC - Annex: Framework agreement on part-time work(3) , which prescribes equal treatment between full-time and part-time workers as well as more targeted and effective actions in collective agreements.
9.2. A concrete target for reducing the pay gap should be introduced urgently in the Employment Guidelines, inter alia regarding access to vocational training and a recognition of women's qualifications and skills