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close this bookABC of Women Workers' Rights and Gender Equality (ILO; 2000; 124 pages)
View the documentThe International Labour Organization
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View the documentPreface to the earlier ABC of women workers' rights
View the documentPreface to the new ABC of women workers' rights and gender equality
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction: Labour standards promoting women workers' rights and gender equality (Ingeborg Heide1)
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View the documentEconomic activity
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View the documentEmployers' organizations
View the documentEmployment injury benefit
View the documentEmployment-intensive works programmes
View the documentEmployment policy and promotion
View the documentEquality of opportunity and treatment in employment
View the documentEqual remuneration (pay)
View the documentExport-processing zones
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Equal remuneration (pay)

The principle of equal pay for work of equal value means that rates and types of remuneration should be based not on an employee's sex but on an objective evaluation of the work performed. This is a fundamental women workers' right, widely acknowledged and implemented in national legal systems. Statistics and research indicate, however, a persisting pay differential between the sexes which has only slightly decreased in recent years. On average worldwide, women's income per hour is about 75 per cent of men's.

There are several major reasons for these differences in earnings. Jobs done by the majority of women are classified at lower levels. Differences arise in skills and qualifications, seniority, and sectors of employment. Women are highly concentrated in "flexible" work such as part-time, piece-rate or temporary work, which are poorly paid. Women work fewer overtime hours than men. Finally, discrimination with respect to pay, access to and promotion in employment is presumed to be an important factor in the gender pay gap.

The principle of equal pay for work of equal value can be implemented by some practical measures:

• Job classification systems and pay structures should be based on objective criteria, irrespective of the sex of the people who perform the job.

• Any reference to a particular sex should be eliminated in all remuneration criteria, and in collective agreements, pay and bonus systems, salary schedules, benefit schemes, medical coverage and other fringe benefits.

• Any remuneration system or structure which has the effect of grouping members of a particular sex in a specific job classification and salary level should be reviewed and adjusted to ensure that other workers are not performing work of equal value in a different job classification and salary level.

Programmes and other measures should be adopted in the workplace to implement the principle of equal remuneration. It should specifically be ensured that:

• corrective measures are developed and applied whenever a situation of unequal remuneration is discovered;

• special training programmes are organized to inform staff, particularly supervisors and managers, of the need to pay employees on the basis of the value of the work and not of who is performing the work; and

• separate negotiations on equal remuneration ought to be conducted between management, employees' representatives and the women workers affected by the existing unequal job classification or pay structure of a particular workplace.

Part-time and hourly employees should be compensated in all types of remuneration on an equal basis with full-time employees, proportional to the number of hours they work.

In the European Union (EU), the principle of pay equality was laid down in the Treaty of Rome of 1956 and further developed through Council Directive 75/117/EEC of 1975. According to these provisions, the principle of equal pay applies to wages and any other consideration, whether in cash or in kind, which the worker receives, directly or indirectly, in respect of his or her employment. The European Court of Justice, whose case law is directly applicable in all the EU Member States, has also had a strong impact on the situation of women workers. In a large number of rulings, it extended the concept of equality to access and contributions to occupational pension schemes, as well as payments from these schemes, temporary payments after cessation of the work relationship, maintenance of salary in case of sickness, severance allowances, and so on.

C. 100: Equal Remuneration, 1951
R. 90: Equal Remuneration, 1951
C. 175: Part-Time Work, 1994
R. 182: Part-Time Work, 1994

→ see also Appraisal and evaluation, Discrimination, Fundamental principles and rights at work, Occupational segregation and Teachers

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