equal pay legislation

Equal pay for equal work is one of the European Union’s founding principles. Despite that, the gender pay gap in the EU is still at 13%. Several EU countries have established equal pay legislation and compulsory gender pay gap reporting to try to close the gap, but there are considerable differences in measurements between countries.

We have summarized current equal pay legislations for 12 European countries. Find out what they mean for you as an employer.

Sweden

The 2009 Discrimination Act requires employers with 10 or more workers to carry out an annual Equal Pay Audit/Report leading to an equal pay action plan in collaboration with local trade unions. The report needs to include an analysis of equal work, equivalent work (work of equivalent value) and a diametrical analysis of female-dominated roles.

Norway

The Norwegian Equality and Discrimination Act stipulates that employers with more than 50 employees must carry out a equal pay audit every two years and are required to adopt a concrete methodology (‘activity duty’) to make active, targeted efforts to promote equality in their operations. The same applies to private employers with 20 or more employees if demanded by a social partner such as a union representative. 

Employers who are also required to conduct the report specified above must publicly report on the current state of gender equality in the business, the work they have done to fulfil the activity obligation and the results of the salary survey in an anonymous form.

Finland

Since 2005 employers with more than 30 employees need to publish a gender equality plan on a bi-annual basis. The plan should include job classifications and the pay gap as well as actions taken to push for more gender equality within the coming year.

Denmark

The Danish Equal Pay Act stipulates that companies with more than 35 full-time employees annually shall prepare gender-segregated pay statistics using the DISCO-8 codes or similar. The duty only applies to companies that employ a minimum of 10 men and women with comparable job functions.

United Kingdom

In compliance with the Gender Equality Act 2010 and the gender pay gap regulations (2014) in force from 6 April 2017, employers with more than 250 employees need to publish gender pay gap information annually. Six different metrics need to be published on both the designated government site as well as on the company’s external website. 

In addition to gender pay gap reporting the Gender Equality Act 2010 gives employees the right to write to their employer asking for information that will help them establish whether there is a pay difference, and if so, the reasons for the difference. If an employee cannot resolve the problem informally or through the formal grievance procedure, they may complain to an employment tribunal. Since 1 October 2014 employers who lose equal pay claims could be forced to conduct an equal pay audit and publish the results.

Ireland

The Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 requires employers to publish gender pay gap information annually in December, based on a snapshot date in June. In 2022 the requirement will include employers with more than 250 employees, in 2024 it will include employers with more than 150 employees and by 2025 all employers with more than 50 employees are included.

In addition to the gender pay and bonus gap employers also needs to publish a statement explaining the reasons for the pay gap and the measures that will be taken to eliminate or reduce their gender pay gap.

Germany

Act to Promote Transparency of Pay Structures (Entgelttransparenzgesetz) came into effect July 6, 2017. Companies with over 200 employees may face claims for information about the average monthly gross salary of at least six colleagues of the other gender who perform the same work or work of equal value.

Companies with more than 500 employees are obliged to publish regular reports on their efforts to promote equality, and implementation of operational review procedures and safeguards to ensure compliance with equal pay, starting in 2018. They are also encouraged to implement internal audits of their pay structures in collaboration with trade unions.

Austria

National Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Labour Market includes a compulsory requirement for companies to publish equal pay reports.

Companies must draw up staff income reports every two years. The reports must show the number of men and women classified under each category as well as the average or median income, adjusted for working time, for women and men in the respective category. The government's goal is to create income transparency and take measures to reduce gender pay gaps.

Belgium

In 2012, Belgium adopted a law on reducing the gender pay gap. Differences in pay and labour costs between men and women should be outlined in companies’ annual audits.

The annual audits are transmitted to the national bank and information is publicly available.

Every two years, firms with over 50 workers should establish a comparative analysis of the pay structure of female and male employees. If women earn less than men, the firm is obliged to produce an action plan.

Spain

The Spanish Real Decreto 902/2020 on equal pay requires all employers with more than 50 employees to conduct an annual equal pay audit comparing equal and equivalent positions to ensure equal pay. 

All employers are to keep a remuneration register covering all employees including executives and senior managers. The register needs to be updated annually and includes average and median pay data broken down by gender (including bonuses and extra pay) and the appropriate professional classification of the positions. An explanation of any pay gap that is 25% or greater must be included.

Italy

The Italian Equal Opportunity Code was amended in 2021. All public and private employers with more than 50 employees (legal entities) must publish a report, every two years, about male and female employment and remuneration.

The reports must include:

  • the number of male and female workers employed and hired during the year and their professional distribution in the organization as well the distribution of full-time and part-time contracts
  • differences in wages (both base salary and total compensation) and benefits
  • selection and recruitment processes
  • criteria adopted for career advancement, access to professional development and managerial training
  • measures to promote work-life balance
  • diversity and inclusion policies

France

Businesses employing 50 or more staff must produce a written annual report for the works council comparing the situation of men and women in the company. This must comprise a comparative analysis in terms of recruitment, training, qualifications, pay, working conditions and a balance between professional and private life, supported with relevant statistically based indicators.



Please note that this blog post is not to be regarded as legal advice, please refer to the legislation of each country.

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