France: What the Government Plans to Do About the Gender Pay Gap

By © Ius Laboris June 29, 2018
France: What the Government Plans to Do About the Gender Pay Gap

​The French government has set out a 10-point action plan to combat the gender pay gap, including increased transparency requirements, a concrete methodology to calculate wage disparities, more frequent monitoring by the labor inspectorate and sanctions for noncompliance. The details are set out below.

On May 9, 2018, Muriel Pénicaud, the French minister of labor, and Marlène Schiappa, minister of gender equality, presented a 10-point action plan to end the unjustified wage gap (9 percent at the national level), concluding the government consultation on equal pay. Action points that require legislative measures will be included in a law for "the freedom to choose a professional future."

The 10 steps announced to end the unjustified wage gap and to further professional equality between women and men are set out below.

1. At last applying the principle of "equal pay for equal work."

The principle of equal pay for equal work, which has been law for 45 years, will shift from a best-efforts obligation to a requirement to show results. (Today the gender-pay-gap rate for workers in equivalent positions and of the same age is 9 percent.)

In order to develop objective criteria for calculating wage gaps, a common methodology will be introduced for all companies with more than 50 employees: from Jan. 1, 2019, for companies with more than 250 employees, and from Jan. 1, 2020, for companies with companies between 50 and 250 employees.

Pénicaud has entrusted Sylvie Leyre, Schneider Electric's HR director, with a mission to define the methods for implementing this common methodology. A test phase will be implemented in September 2018.

In the event that wage gaps persist, companies will have to set aside a wage "catch-up" budget for women; the maximum period for compliance will be three years. The catch-up budget will be negotiated within the framework of negotiations on professional equality and quality of life at work.

In the event of noncompliance that persists until 2022, labor inspectorate sanctions will no longer be imposed only in relation to the current best-efforts obligation, but also on the requirement for results.

2. Transparency requirement.

An obligation for companies to be transparent in the presentation of their results with regard to equal pay will be established:

  • Companies will have to publish their overall score on the unexplained pay gap on their websites.
  • A method of publishing data on the gross gender pay gap will need to be implemented.
  • The elected representatives of the social and economic committee and trade union representatives will have access to this data, job category by job category.

3. Training provision for part-time workers.

More training rights will be established for part-time employees, most of whom are women. All employees working part-time or more will enjoy the same rights regarding their personal training account as full-time employees. Women now account for 80 percent of part-time employees: they will therefore be the principal beneficiaries of these new rights.

4. Equality action as part of departmental annual review.

Each department of a company will be required to report on the action it has taken to promote professional equality during its annual review, in particular on classification of job types, the promotion of gender diversity and professional qualification certificates, in order to support women's career paths. The management team will monitor the activity of each department in this area. A methodology on good bargaining practices will also be promoted to social partners (trade unions and employers' representatives).

5. Increased inspection and monitoring.

Checks and inspections by the labor inspectorate will multiply by four, passing from 1,730 to 7,000 inspections a year. The additional inspections will focus solely on the topic of professional equality and wages, which is one of the four priorities of the inspectorate.

6. "Apply or explain" equality rule for listed companies.

For publicly listed companies, the governing bodies will be made accountable for implementing the "apply (equality) or explain" principle during compensation committee and board of directors' meetings, for results relating to equal pay.

7. Mandatory disclosure of highest-level management gender balance for listed companies.

It will be mandatory for publicly listed companies to disclose annual information (provided by the board of directors) on gender diversity in the top management of the company.

8. Combatting stereotypes.

Stereotypes, particularly with regard to hiring, will be challenged by distributing guides that will be made available to companies, departments and regional inter-professional joint committees.

9. Measures to improve work-life balance.

Better work-life balance will be encouraged through promoting good practice (time management, remote working) and by examining the arrangements for taking maternity, paternity and parental leave based on the ongoing work of experts.

10. Support the draft work-life balance directive.

At the European level, France will support the draft directive on the work-life balance of parents and caretakers, for a strong and active social Europe in favor of professional equality.

Ius Laboris is the world's largest global HR and employment law firm alliance. The article was led by Capstan Avocats, which has offices in France. © 2018 Ius Laboris. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.



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