In our work to promote gender equality and combat discrimination, equal pay is a particularly challenging topic. Progress to achieve equal pay for equal work and work of equal value has stagnated with a gender pay gap of around 16% in the EU, of which only 6% can be explained by structural factors. Gender based discrimination in remuneration is sadly prevalent, leading to increasingly unequal economic outcomes for women throughout the lifespan, undermining efforts at achieving the equal economic independence and participation of women, and preventing women in Europe from fulfilling their true potential on the labor market. All this in spite of the fact that the principle of equal pay was enshrined in the Internationl Labour Organisation’s Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100) in 1951, in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and has since been reiterated in numerous EU Directives (now summarized in the Gender Recast Directive 2006/54/EC) and in national law.
Building a case on equal pay is challenging for several reasons.
Information on pay may be restricted in many countries, so complainants may not even know they are paid less than their colleagues. Ensuring and enforcing transparency in pay systems and in access to information is therefore key. The issue is further complicated by the need to identify a comparator in cases where there might be indirect discrimination, and by having to tackle the many arguments relating to sometimes gender biased job evaluations. Shifting the burden of proof onto the respondent is a key strategic opportunity provided for by law, and we hope to help you avail yourself of this opportunity.
The handbook aims to be a practical and useful tool for you in your work on equal pay cases, guiding you to existing resources, data, partners and arguments that have been successful in the past. It does not aim to be a piece of exhaustive research, but rather a practical manual and toolbox.
The handbook is structured to help case-workers in equality bodies, lawyers or other legal professionals to build their case, but the resources contained therein should support and inform anyone looking to gain insight into the challenges and opportunities in litigating for equal pay. In addition, the handbook contains useful and hands-on information for anyone interested in and working on equal pay.
Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies, consists of 46 equality bodies in 34 European countries. Legal experts working on equal pay cases in 20 of these countries have put together this handbook on How to Build a Case on Equal Pay to support both our own work and that of our colleagues.
How to build a case on equal pay (2016)
Accessible version in Word is available here
The Latvian Office of the Ombudsman has translated the Equal Pay Handbook into Latvian. Please download it here.
Equal Pay Handbook – Latvian