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The EU pay transparency proposed directive - general overview and some comments on the rules of enforcement and sanctions
Stockholm University, Faculty of Law, Department of Law.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0777-7528
2022 (English)In: European equality law review, ISSN 2443-9592, Vol. 2, p. 1-20Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The European Commission’s Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between men and women through pay transparency and enforcement mechanisms is ground-breaking in two aspects: first, in using pay transparency at the EU and Member State levels as a tool to tackle gender based discrimination and gender biases in pay settings; and secondly – and the focus of this article – by placing greater emphasis on procedure to ensure victims’ access to justice through the enforcement of pay claims.This strengthening of access to justice, and the invocation of both collective and individual claims through private enforcement presents different challenges to the Member States depending upon the national industrial relations constellation in place, as well as the roles exercised by Government agencies, equality bodies and non-governmental organisations. In labour markets where, to a large extent, the social partners are involved in wage setting process, such as in the Nordic countries, empowering individuals through access to justice changes the power dynamics of wage-setting. In jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, where private enforcement has historically been essential, the labour unions have acted as facilitators, for example by funding collective actions concerning pay, as seen with the recent Asda case. The avenues of enforcement as well as remedies also vary greatly between the Member States. Private enforcement is not envisioned in the proposed directive as the only avenue to address equal pay, but as one of several tools that has been underutilised in at least some, if not most, Member States. The role played by equality bodies in relation to discrimination and equal pay across EU Member Statesalso shows great variation: there is little action in some Member States, whereas in others, the equality bodies are a driving force. This role is also challenged by the greater emphasis on private enforcement in the proposed directive, leading ideally to healthier competition between equality bodies, labour unions and individuals with respect to addressing issues of equal pay. A richer case law in questions of equal pay at the Member State level can provide better guidance for the social partners as well as supervisory agencies, creating a stronger basis upon which labour unions and agencies can in their turn be moreactive. First, this article addresses the proposed directive and the transparency requirements, as well asstrengthened access to justice mechanisms. Secondly, it examines effective remedies and sanctions,as well as enforcement, as set out in the Commission’s proposal. Finally, some comments will be given regarding the roles of the social partners, supervisory authorities and monitoring bodies. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022. Vol. 2, p. 1-20
Keywords [en]
wage transparency, gender pay gap, access to justice
National Category
Law and Society
Research subject
Legal Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-215659OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-215659DiVA, id: diva2:1745371
Available from: 2023-03-22 Created: 2023-03-22 Last updated: 2023-05-12Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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