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France - International Women's Day

France to punish employers who fail equal pay test

Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

The French government is threatening to punish employers who fail to respect equal pay between men and women. The Socialist administration marked International Women's Day by announcing measures to tackle gender disparity in the workplace.

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Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Friday signed an agreement to promote equal pay and education for women.

But equal pay has been part of French labour law for 40 years and Women's Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem on Friday suggested that it was time to crack down on workplaces that do not respect gender-equal pay with legal sanctions.

Since 1983 companies with more than 50 employees are obliged to carry out an annual analysis of gender inequality in their workplaces. But many ignore the requirement.

Since 1 January 2012 they could be fined one per cent of their wage bill for not respecting equal pay for equal work but the law is not put into practice, according to Vallaud-Belkacem.

“Today we have decided not to be satisfied with incantatory laws but to enact mechanisms of control and action,” she told RTL radio, explaining that she has drawn up an action plan to take effective punitive action within six months.

A report published on Friday showed there is an 18 per cent salary disparity between men and women in France with the difference rising to 28 per cent in the private sector.

Women in management positions earn on average 20 per cent less than their male counterparts, according to a study by the Apec group, which studies white-collar workers’ conditions.

French President François Hollande has suggested changing the law on maternity leave, giving equal rights to mothers and fathers to prevent women losing out in the labour market.

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