Unions publish own equal pay directive to protest Commission delay

The ETUC has taken the unusual step of publishing its own pay transparency directive in protest over the delay to European Commission legislation originally due to be published today – European equal pay day.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised “binding pay transparency measures” within the first 100 days of her mandate.

But 339 days after von der Leyen took office, women are still waiting for the Commission’s proposal to tackle the EU’s 16% gender pay gap.

And the Commission has cast its commitment to the initiative into doubt by marking it as “to be confirmed” on its calendar, with publication delayed until at least December 15.

To help get the process back on track, the ETUC commissioned experts in European labour law to draft legally watertight legislation from which the European Commission can take inspiration.

The 18 articles of ETUC’s 3,000-word proposal include measures to: 

  • Ban pay secrecy clauses in contracts so that workers can discuss pay
  • Require release of information on job evaluation for the purpose of establishing equal pay for work of equal value
  • Make all employers produce pay information audits and annual action plans on pay equality
  • Support trade unions to negotiate with employers to tackle the pay gap

The publication of the model legislation comes a month after the ETUC revealed women in the EU will have to wait until 2104 to receive equal pay without action to speed-up the current pace of change.

Commenting on the model legislation, ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“The election of the first woman Commission president and her promise of pay transparency brought real hope of positive change for women whose work has been systematically undervalued for too long.

“Sadly, equal pay seems to be slipping off the Commission’s agenda despite women making up a majority of the workforce on the Covid-19 frontline in underpaid jobs like caring and cleaning.

“To help President von der Leyen keep her election promise, trade unions have prepared a draft directive on gender pay transparency which the European Commission are free to use.

“We urge President von der Leyen on European equal pay day to recommit to her promised pay transparency law so that Europe’s women won’t have to wait until the next century for equal pay.”