In 2006, a number of existing directives on gender equality in the field of employment were ‘recast’ and consolidated, in the Recast Directive, also called Equal Pay Directive. The Directive was complemented in 2014 by a Commission Recommendation on Pay Transparency (2014/124/EU). At the beginning of 2019, the Commission ran two public consultations on equal pay and gender equality at large in the EU.
CEEP took part in these consultations and stressed that there was no need to revise the Equal Pay Directive or to introduce binding pay transparency measures at the European level. Nevertheless, European Commission President von der Leyen announced that she will table binding measures on pay transparency in her political guidelines in September 2019 as well as in the Commission Work Programme. CEEP welcomed the Commission’s choice to address the problems with unequal pay through the 2014 Pay Transparency Recommendation.
The Member States and the national social partners should choose themselves to incorporate the proposed actions they find appropriate in their ongoing work on equal pay, with full respect to the specific national regulation and practice. CEEP stresses that the proposed actions, such as pay audits, job evaluations and classification criteria of work of equal value falls in the remit of the Member States’ and the national social partners’ competence and are not issues to address at the EU level. Pay should be transparent but CEEP wants to emphasise that all policies that touch upon wage setting are and must remain national policies and hence a competence of the Member States and the national social partners.
There is a broad variety of wage systems in the Member States, ranging from strict salary scale in some Member States and/or sectors to individually differentiated pay in others. The Commission can in this regard provide guidelines and follow-up the actions taken at the national level as a voluntary support to Member States and the national social partners. CEEP acknowledges that further progress in some cases might be needed when it comes to the application of the legislative framework. To tackle the gender pay gap, the Commission can continue to monitor Member States compliance with the equal pay principle in the context of the annual European Semester exercise as well as contribute to tackling the root causes, in particular gender stereotypes and segregation on labour markets. It is also essential to increase the availability, the quality, and the affordability of care, in particular childcare infrastructures to encourage higher levels of female employment.
Thus, CEEP welcomes the Commission announcement that it will revise the Barcelona targets. The Commission should work together with Member States to ensure that the targets are fully reached. We also suggest that the Barcelona targets consider the affordability and quality of childcare facilities.