Equal pay for women and men for equal work – will it become a reality in the EU?

26. 9. 2022

At EU level, the final text of the directive is currently being drafted, the aim of which is to ensure equal pay for women and men for equal or equivalent work and to eliminate any discrimination based on gender. The directive will regulate new rights and obligations for employees and employers, both in the public and private sectors. It is important to note that the right of men and women to equal pay for equal or equivalent work has been a fundamental principle of the European Union since the adoption of the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

The draft directive envisages the introduction of the right for job applicants to be informed of the initial amount or range of their wage or salary. According to the draft European directive, job applicants should be able to find this information in the vacancy advertisement or in other ways, before the job interview and without having to actively request it. In addition, employers will not be allowed to ask job applicants about their past earnings.

Under the draft directive, employees are also to be given the right to request information from their employer about their remuneration and the average remuneration of other employees performing equivalent work, and the employer must break down such information by gender for the relevant categories of employees.

The Directive also envisages the obligation for employers with at least 250 employees to publish information about gender pay gaps in their organisation. If gender pay gaps are found that cannot be justified by objective factors, the employer will be obliged to remedy them, including in cooperation with employee representatives or the labour inspectorate. Under the draft directive, if an employee suffers any harm as a result of a breach of the right to equal pay, he or she should have the right to claim full compensation – including full payment of the wage or salary and related remuneration.

Member States will be obliged to introduce specific sanctions for gender-based pay discrimination, including setting a minimum financial penalty (fine). The draft directive then (as is common in the case of discrimination) envisages a reversal of the burden of proof, where the employer will have to prove the absence of discrimination in pay. This means that discrimination will not have to be proved by the employee.

In connection with the draft directive, it is worth mentioning that the Czech environment already emphasises equal pay and generally prohibits discrimination. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court declares that the amount of an employee’s pay cannot be influenced by the external social and economic conditions in the region in which the work is performed, since the wage paid is the remuneration of the employee’s specific work, irrespective of the cost of meeting the necessities of life.

In conclusion, therefore, all employers can now be advised to review their internal remuneration systems in the light of the requirements of equality and transparency.

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