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In recent days, it has been announced that a royal decree-law (“RDL”) is to be approved, guaranteeing equal treatment and equal opportunities for men and women in employment. The wording of the RDL that has been made public refers to important amendments in different areas, of which we highlight amendments relating to equal pay and salary transparency. So, what have other countries done to control the gender pay gap?

The issue of the gender pay gap is worldwide, as stated by World Economic Forum in its 2018 Global Gender Gap Report. Below, we provide an international comparison of the initiatives in countries in our vicinity and some aspects worth noting.

Germany Transparency Act of 2017 Yes >500 workers The individual right to information about compensation, i.e., the average salary in companies with over 200 workers, is recognized. For data protection reasons, this information is only disclosed when the comparable groups have at least six workers. Companies with over 500 workers must inform about their salary structure and equality to all employees.
France Policies not established in an act; approved by Ministry for Labor Yes > 250 workers (>50 since 2020) Principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

Mandatory software project for companies. Salary information is made available to labor union representatives. If pay gap is not rectified within three years, there will be a labor inspection penalty.

Ireland Employment Equality Act, 1998 (updated in 2016) Yes >250 workers Companies must publish information about gender pay gap. Information required: bonus differences, salaries for split shifts and the salaries of men and women.
Iceland Act on equal status and equal rights of women Yes >25 workers Companies must show that they pay the same salary to men and women. Government carries out audits which can lead to sanctions. A “Certificate of Equal Pay” is required.
Luxembourg Policies not established in an act; approved by Ministry for Equal Opportunities Yes >50 workers (private sector) Free self-assessment software, “Logib-Lux.” Identifies the possible causes of salary differences. A guide on equal pay to help companies with fewer than 50 workers, aimed at achieving equal pay.
United Kingdom Equality Act 2010, on information about the gender pay gap Yes >250 workers Companies must publish salary information based on gender. To be submitted to the government; sanctions for breaching this obligation. Companies must inform their employees.
Switzerland Policies not established in an act. No Free self-assessment software, “Logib,” for companies with over 50 workers. Companies have control of the software; tutorial on its use.

This comparison highlights some of the legal challenges in this area. For example, the coexistence of transparency and the right to information with data protection; the need for governments to control by carrying out audits or the possibility for those audits to be carried out privately; the definition of what is work of equal value; and the coordination of these policies with commercial regulations on non-financial information and corporate governance regulations. We must wait and see what solutions the possible new Spanish RDL proposes.

The Cuatrecasas Labor and Employment Practice is following this new legislative development closely, and our #Compliance Group is closely following the initiatives relating to the pay gap and their impact on companies.

This post is also available in: Español



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Abogada especializada en derecho del trabajo, Lara Vivas ha llevado a cabo negociaciones colectivas, entre las que se incluye la negociación de convenios, mediación en conflictos colectivos y huelgas. Asimismo, ha participado en procesos de restructuración en derecho español y europeo. Ejerce de abogada en tribunales de primera y segunda instancia en España. Ha asesorado a empresas europeas, americanas y asiáticas en asuntos legales de modo continuado, así como a departamentos de Recursos Humanos para realizar análisis estratégicos de sus organizaciones, desde una perspectiva jurídica y de análisis económico del derecho.

Knowledge Lawyer (ACI)

20 artículos

Asociada sénior de Gestión del Conocimiento del Área Laboral de Cuatrecasas. Miembro del Instituto Internacional Cuatrecasas de Estrategia Legal en Recursos Humanos.