Employers May Face Fines Under Draft EU Gender Pay Gap Rules

European companies may face fines if they don’t provide information on how they pay women and men differently under draft European Union rules, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News ahead of its publication on Thursday.

The European Commission wants binding pay transparency to help close a pay gap that sees women paid 14.1% less than men across the 27-nation bloc. Exposing pay information will help women see if they are being paid fairly for the same work, regulators say in the document, and may help equality advocates and trade unions seek compensation for pay discrimination.

Publishing the information could also help women negotiate higher wages, researchers say. Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Finland already gather data on gender pay differences which has helped raise some wages. The U.K., which left the EU at the end of January, requires companies with at least 250 employees to disclose the difference between men’s and women’s mean pay.

The EU’s draft proposal requires governments to set penalties, including fines, at a level they think will be effective, if companies aren’t supplying information on any pay gap. Large firms with more than 250 employees should publish information on the pay to female and male workers and supply more detailed information to their staff. Smaller firms are required to supply pay information at a worker’s request.

It covers basic salary, bonuses, overtime pay, pensions and expenses such as travel and housing allowances. Women receive pensions that are 30% lower on average. The proposal isn’t asking for women to be paid the same as men but that any pay differences must be based on clear criteria. EU governments will need to approve the proposal and can make changes.

Only 7% of chief executive officers in the EU are female, with women taking just 17% of executive posts. Women managers earn 10 euros less than men per hour, according to the European Institute for Gender Equality.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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