The European Commission launched a Communication on 20 November 2017 to announce its Action Plan (2017-2019) tackling the gender pay gap. The launch coincided with the Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, which this year focused on “Women’s rights in turbulent times”.
Equinet was represented at the Colloquium, and it is hoped that the recommendations emerging from the Colloquium will address strengthening national equality bodies.
The Action Plan (2017-2019) announced on 20 November aims to provide a comprehensive set of measures to tackle the gender pay gap. It is inter alia based on the implementation report of the European Commission Recommendation on Pay Transparency (2014), where it is noted that only around one third of Member States introduced any of the recommended measures. However, the Action Plan (2017-2019) goes beyond pay transparency and addresses a range of areas, including horizontal and vertical gender segregation on the labor market, the care penalty, and the valorization of women’s skills.
The eight areas for action include:
- Improving the application of the equal pay principle
- Combating segregation in occupations and sectors
- Breaking the ceiling: initiatives to combat vertical segregation
- Tackling the care penalty
- Better valorizing women’s skills, efforts and responsibilities
- Fighting the fog: unveiling inequalities and stereotypes
- Alerting and informing about the gender pay gap
- Lending hands: enhancing partnerships to tackle the gender pay gap
In the first chapter aimed at improving the application of the equal pay principle, the assessment of possible targeted amendments to the Gender (Recast) Directive(2006) is raised. Such targeted amendments would address pay transparency measures, minimum sanctions for breach of the equal pay principle, minimum standards on compensation for victims, aligning the provisions on occupational pension schemes with CJEU case law, and strengthening the enforcement role of national equality bodies.
Equinet welcomes the Action Plan (2017-2019) with its holistic approach to the gender pay gap, as well as the possibility of using legislative measures to strengthen the application of the equal pay principle. Equinet will continue to closely follow any developments in this respect, including references to strengthening the role of national equality bodies. The European Commission’s Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunities Between Women and Men is currently preparing an opinion on the gender pay gap where the Equinet Working Paper on Standards for National Equality Bodies (2016) is referenced in the context of strengthening national equality bodies, and Equinet will work to ensure that efforts at strengthening the enforcement role of equality bodies are in alignment with the working paper.
More information on the Action Plan, the Evaluation Report on the 2014 Pay Transparency Recommendation and the European Commission’s work to tackle the gender pay gap available here.