Women in the European Union continue to earn less than men with the average gender pay gap in the EU standing at 13%. This means that for every €1 a man earns, a women will make only €0.87. Equal Pay Day marks the date that symbolises how many extra days women must work until the end of the year to earn what men earned in the same year. This year Equal Pay Day falls on 15 November.
Ahead of this symbolic day, Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency and Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, said:
“Equal Pay Day serves to remind us to continue our efforts to close the gender pay gap. Equal pay for the same work or work of equal value is one of the founding principles of the EU. It was laid down in the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
Yet progress on the elimination of the gender pay gap is stagnant this year and has been slow over the years. This reminds us that gender stereotypes continue to affect women and men in all spheres of life, including in the workplace, and that specific action is necessary to implement the principle of equal pay.
The Commission works consistently to advance equality between women and men in the EU. This June, the Pay Transparency Directive entered into force. Under this new law, employees will be able to enforce their right to equal pay for equal work or work of equal value through a right to pay information.
Those that are established to have suffered pay discrimination based on sex must get remedied for unpaid work and receive fair pay thereon. Transparency is key to make a real change and this new legislation is an important step in that right direction. The implementation of the Directive by the Member States will now be key to enforce the principle of equal pay for all EU citizens.”
The right to equal pay for women and men for equal work or work of equal value has been a founding principle of the European Union since the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The requirement to ensure equal pay is set out in Article 157 TFEU and the EU Directive on equal opportunities and treatment of men and women in employment and occupation.
President von der Leyen announced binding pay transparency measures as one of her political priorities for this Commission. In June 2019, the Council called on the Commission to develop concrete measures to increase pay transparency. In March 2020, the Commission published its Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 setting out actions to close the gender pay gap, followed a few months later by the 2021-2025 Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in External Action.
The Pay Transparency Directive entered into force on 6 June 2023. It sets a clear framework for the application of the concept of “work of equal value” and criteria that include skills, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. It helps workers to identify and challenge discrimination they may be victims of. The Directive also helps employers to assess whether in practice their pay structures do comply with the principle of equal pay. Member States have three years to transpose it into national law. The Directive will ensure that women and men in the EU receive equal pay for equal work. The European Commission intends to support the development of tools and methodologies for European employers to correct any unjustified gender pay differences. To that aim, the Commission is dedicating 6,1 million euros under the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme (CERV) to support the implementation of the Pay Transparency Directive in Member States.
In December 2022, the directive aimed to improve the gender balance on corporate boards entered into force. It tackles one of the main root causes of the gender pay gap – the so-called ‘glass ceiling' caused by the lack of transparency in appointments of board members in companies. The Directive will ensure that the appointments to board positions are transparent and that candidates to board positions are assessed objectively based on their individual merits, irrespective of sex.
In September 2022, the Commission presented the European Care Strategy to ensure quality, affordable and accessible care services across the European Union. The Strategy is accompanied by two Recommendations for Member States on the revision of the Barcelona targets on early childhood education and care, and on access to affordable high-quality long-term care.
The Commission also addresses women's underrepresentation in the labour market by improving the work-life balance of working parents and carers. The new Directive on work-life balance entered into force on 2 August 2022.
The Commission's proposal on adequate minimum wages for workers, adopted on 28 October 2020, supports gender equality by helping to close the gender pay gap and to lift women out of poverty, as more women than men earn minimum wages in Europe.
In March 2023, the European Commission launched a campaign challenging gender stereotypes. It brings gender stereotypes in career choices, caregiving and decision-making to attention.
For More Information
Webpage on Gender pay gap
Webpage on Equal Pay Day
- Publication date
- 15 November 2023
- Representation in Cyprus