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The gender pay gap is unacceptable
© Consiglio d'Europa

Right to equal pay: European Committee of Social Rights finds violations in 14 countries

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) has found violations of the right to equal pay and the right to equal opportunities in the workplace in 14 out of 15 countries which apply the European Social Charter’s collective complaints procedure: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Slovenia. Only Sweden was found to be compliant with the Charter.

Complaints to the ECSR, which monitors the implementation of the Charter, were lodged by the international NGO University Women of Europe (UWE). While the ECSR found that all 15 countries concerned had satisfactory legislation recognising the right to equal pay for equal work, it found various violations - bar Sweden - primarily due to insufficient progress in reducing the gender pay gap, but in some cases also due to lack of pay transparency in the labour market, ineffective legal remedies and the insufficient powers and resources of national gender equality bodies. Moreover, despite quota arrangements and other measures, women also continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions within private companies. The ECSR noted that the gender pay gap had narrowed in some countries, but progress was insufficient.

The European Committee of Social Rights is an organ of the Council of Europe, which monitors States’ compliance with the European Social Charter under two complementary mechanisms: through collective complaints lodged by the social partners and other non-governmental organisations (collective complaints procedure), and through national reports drawn up by Contracting Parties (reporting system).