In the wake of a revelation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that revealed thousands of employers illegally discriminated against women, the European Union is pushing for more measures to limit pay disparities.
If approved, the European Parliament will recommend that companies with more than 100 employees and publicly traded companies with more than $10 billion in annual revenue have mandatory policies that will help level the playing field for all genders, according to Joanna Baker, assistant European commissioner for gender equality. The policy will also call for stronger sanctions to go after companies that don’t comply with these rules.
“Gender pay gaps are a blatant problem and are often largely hidden and hidden by large organisations,” Baker said. “We still don’t see gender equality in equality of pay across all workplaces in the European Union, despite decades of efforts.”
She noted that a survey in 2017 revealed the average pay difference between men and women working full-time was 8.4 percent, and that women in their mid-20s earned 83 percent of men’s pay.
The same year, nearly 20,000 employers across Europe were found to have paid female workers less than the average in a survey carried out by the union, with the largest disparity in Italy. In addition, 1,500 European companies had still not updated their employment policies to meet the standards set by the European Commission in 2016, according to a resolution by the Parliament’s equalities committee.
The European Parliament also asked the EU’s member states to implement “regulations to promote gender equality in enterprises and public institutions through their employment legislation” in their national parliaments.
According to a joint survey by the European Federation of Pension Funds, two-thirds of defined benefit (DB) pension funds in the EU have confirmed that they have no gender pay gap, but the study concluded that only 22 percent of employees have access to paid family leave, and that fewer than half of companies offer any parental leave benefits.
They estimated the European gender pay gap to be about 18 percent, which Baker agreed was a fair figure.