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Tuesday, 7 October 2008


I have just returned from voting in the Women's Committee where a report on equal pay was passed with a large majority.

There remains a persistent gap between pay of men and women with the latest figures showing a 15% difference between gross hourly pay of men and women across Europe.

The gender pay gap (GPG) often used to be explained by individual differences such as age, education and experience. The evidence, however, suggests that these differences play a relatively minor part in the persistence of the GPG and that they are diminishing throughout the EU. In some countries individual factors are not at all important.

The GPG appears more related to occupational segregation and the consequent impact on wage structure.

There is general agreement that the open direct pay discrimination based on sex is diminished by existing legislation. Indirect discrimination seems to be an issue resulting from the pay gap in segregated sectors.

The own initiative report before the Women's Committee recommended policy responses organised under the following three headings:

1) equal pay policy, tackling direct and indirect discrimination
2) equal opportunities policy, aiming for the reconciliation of family and working life, resulting in continuous employment patterns
3) wage-policies designed to reduce wage inequalities and improve the remuneration of low-paid jobs which are often dominated by women.

I very much hope the British Government will take note of this report. The gender pay gap in the UK was 20% in 2005, above the European average but below Cyprus, Germany and Finland. We can do better than that.

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