Early in March, the European Commission, under President Ursula von der Leyen, presented a proposal on pay transparency with the aim of ensuring that men and women across the EU get equal pay for equal work.
Described as a political priority for Ms von der Leyen, the proposal sets out pay transparency measures, such as pay information for job seekers, a right to know the pay levels for workers doing the same work, as well as gender pay gap reporting obligations for big companies, with 250+ staff members.
In addition, the proposal also provides workers with new tools to claim their rights, while facilitating access to justice.
In a major change to the job-seeking process in Malta, employers will not be allowed to ask job seekers for their pay history and they will have to provide pay related anonymised data upon employee request. Employees will also have the right to compensation for discrimination in pay.
The EC’s proposal takes into account the impact of COVID-19 on employers and employees, will increase awareness regarding pay conditions within a company, giving both employers and employees more tools to address pay discrimination at work.
“This will address a number of substantial factors contributing to the existing pay gap and is particularly relevant during COVID-19 pandemic, which is reinforcing gender inequalities and puts women into greater risk of poverty exposure,” the EC said.
Commenting, Ms von der Leyen, said: “Equal work deserves equal pay. And for equal pay, you need transparency. Women must know whether their employers treat them fairly. And when this is not the case, they must have the power to fight back and get what they deserve.”
Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, said: “The pay transparency proposal is a major step toward the enforcement of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between women and men. It will empower workers to enforce their right to equal pay and lead to an end to gender bias in pay. It will also allow for the detection, acknowledgment and addressing of an issue that we wanted to eradicate since the adoption of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Women deserve due recognition, equal treatment and value for their work and the Commission is committed to ensuring that workplaces meet this objective.”
Pay transparency and better enforcement of equal pay
The legislative proposal focuses on two core elements of equal pay: measures to ensure pay transparency for workers and employers as well as better access to justice for victims of pay discrimination.
Pay transparency measures:
Better access to justice for victims of pay discrimination:
“The proposal takes into account the current difficult situation of employers, in particular in private sector, and maintains proportionality of measures while providing flexibility for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and encouraging Member States to use available resources for reporting of data.
“The annual costs of pay reporting for the employers are estimated to be from €379 to €890 or companies with 250+ employees.”
The devil is in the detail, however, with the EC proposal being geared to ‘big companies’, referring to organisations with a 250+ staff complement. According to the EC’s own impact assessment 67 per cent of EU workers would be excluded from the pay transparency rules. In Malta, just 22 per cent of the local workforce would be covered by the new rules.
The proposal will go to the European Parliament and the Council for approval. Once adopted, Member States will have two years to transpose the Directive into national law and communicate the relevant texts to the Commission. The Commission will carry out an evaluation of the proposed Directive after eight years.
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