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Slovak women earn 18% less than men – how to achieve equal pay?

25/10/18

 


Bratislava, 25 October 2018 – According to the Gender Equality Index (hereafter “GEI”), women in the EU earn 16% less on average than men. In Slovakia, this difference is 18%. Statistically, this means women with average earnings work for no pay until the end of the year from 25 October 2018. The Slovak Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Family has highlighted the problem by introducing Equal Pay Day, which was established on 25 October.

 

Equal pay for equal work is a basic human right. Nonetheless, the thorny issue of equal pay and equal opportunities for men and women has resonated in society for a long time. According to the Eurobarometer, current or future motherhood is often the reason why men are preferred for managerial positions. Thus, women face lower hourly earnings, fewer years at work, and lower employment rates due to career breaks to raise children or take care of relatives. Many women cannot, or fail to, return to their previous job positions after maternity leave.

The importance of this issue can also be seen from the approach of the European Commission. The EC has developed an action plan for 2018 and 2019 in which it calls for higher respect for the equal pay principle by amending Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation.

 

The most significant differences are in managerial positions

According to Ing. Oľga Pietruchová, M.A., Director of the Department of Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities at the Slovak Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Family, equal pay should not only be natural, but it is a statutory obligation, as § 119a of the Labour Code stipulates equal wage for equal work and for work of equal value for both men and women.

What is the reality in practice? “The smallest pay gaps are in public administration, the school system from nursery schools up to comprehensive schools, which can, however, also be attributed to the fact that very few men work there. Generally, the smallest differences in wages and salaries of men and women are where earnings are the lowest. On the other hand, the most significant gaps are seen for people with university education working in managerial positions, mainly in the business sector. In managerial positions in transport, logistics, and postal services, this difference was more than 50% to the disadvantage of women, which means that women earn half the salaries of men,” says Mrs. Pietruchová.

It is interesting to note that the level of education of women is currently higher than that of men, however, gender-conditioned stereotypical decisions of girls when selecting their studies and occupation predetermine that their investments in education will not be adequately evaluated. The gap in salaries of an IT worker and a social worker or a nurse is enormous, although all of them have a university degree.

 

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Un(non-)paid work of women

Equal pay is a broad-spectrum topic, which reflects a general, and often old fashioned, view of the position of women in the society. This is also evidenced by other GEI results. In recent years, gender differences as regards care for the household and children have increased to the disadvantage of women. Up to 35% of women take care of children, or learn with them for at least one hour a day. Only 19% of men perform the same activities. Women are also more engaged in day-to-day household-related activities (77% according to the GEI), compared to 47% for men. 60% of women (compared to 16% of men) do the cooking and cleaning for at least one hour a day.

“According to the latest GEI results published by Eurostat, differences between men and women (on the labour market, in education, earnings, state of health, involvement in public life, or time spent with families) are gradually decreasing in the EU. However, the situation in Slovakia has become slightly worse over the last 10 years. We rank 26th in gender equality in the EU. When talking about wages and salaries, women earn on average 16%-18% less a month than men. They work 39 hours a week on average, which is 2 hours less than men work. Therefore, companies should consider the implementation of measures which reflect equal remuneration of men and women,” says Michal Kišša, Programme Director of the Pontis Foundation.

 

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How are firms responding to this situation?

Every other year, the Slovak Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Family organizes a competition for companies called Employer attentive to families, gender equality, and equal opportunities. A higher allowance during maternity leave and the possibility to take parental leave by fathers has also proved to be an effective measure.

Oľga Pietruchová sees the possibility to improve the current status by promoting transparency: “The crucial factor is transparency in remuneration, which could be increased by disclosing salaries in job advertisements. Increasing the minimum wage and salaries in the public sector is another important step. However, the pay gap will not be reduced unless there is an adequate representation of women in managerial positions; the same applies for the best-paid sectors such as IT.” Some companies are already slowly heading towards this vision.

Philip Morris Slovakia s.r.o, which has recently received, as the first firm in Slovakia, the EQUAL-SALARY Certificate granted by the Swiss Equal Salary Foundation to companies which passed a due diligence by PwC is an ambitious example of this. The EQUAL-SALARY Certificate appreciates the support of women in their career growth, the efforts to eliminate any stereotypes and prejudices, and the creation of a working environment suitable for women. In practice, this means that these companies offer flexible working hours, which allows women to share their time between career and family. Equal pay for men and women is a matter of course.

Marcela Krajčová, Manager for People & Culture at Philip Morris Slovakia, says: “In our company, each position is equally available for men and women. We have women working as sales representatives, managers, lawyers, etc. For example, our Sales and IT Departments are led by women. We have more women than men in our local management team, and even more women in senior positions. This is notable as our total staff includes more men than women.”

Compliance with gender equality and sustainability values is generous, but is it also profitable? Marcela Krajčová has the following message for firms that are hesitant about the business sense “Philip Morris is undergoing an unprecedented transformation to meet its vision of a smoke-free future, where cigarettes will be replaced by better, less harmful alternatives without smoke. To achieve this, we need to attract new and retain existing talents. As an employer, we are operating in global competition; therefore, we must have high standards for the approach to employees. Thus, this clearly makes sense to us.”

 

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Pay gap between men and women is shrinking
 

“Slovakia is among the countries in the middle of the list prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF),” says Ľudmila Guerin, HR Consulting Manager at PwC. ”According to 2016 data, the pay gap in Slovakia is about 14%, calculated using WEF methodology. In the CEE, Slovenia, Hungary, and Poland have achieved better results (e.g. Slovenia only 5%), so we have a lot of work to do to catch up. However, when compared to countries like South Korea, Japan, Estonia, Chile, Canada, or the US, Slovakia is still doing well, as pay gaps there vary between 20% and 35%, predominantly as a result of different cultures and legislation in these countries.”

 

According to data from the Slovak Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Family, the pay gap between men and women in Slovakia is shrinking (from almost 27% in 2005 to about 18% in 2018).

and women in Slovakia is shrinking (from almost 27% in 2005 to about 18% in 2018).

Why does this topic need to be discussed at all - why is equal pay for equal work not natural? Ľudmila Guerin explains: 

“In Slovakia, we still do not have a culture established that employers publicly communicate their commitment to apply equal remuneration in equal positions, even though EU legislation does not allow the creation of pay gaps in equal positions.”

Firms may request an equal pay audit where specialists, following the given methodology, subsequently issue an Equal Pay Compliance Certificate valid for a certain period. According to a survey conducted by PwC this year, up to 48% of respondents intend to perform internal or external Pay Equal Reviews in their organisations. Companies should also communicate (both internally and externally) what measures are taken to comply with the equal pay principle.

“Pay gaps arise because women work mainly in industries where wage and salary levels are below average (e.g. in the school system, culture, or healthcare). On the other hand, men predominate in sectors with higher-than-average wages and salaries (such as IT or the automotive industry),” said Ľudmila Guerin confirming Oľga Pietruchová’s words.

Socially responsible companies that care about their reputation should also address equal pay and publicly communicate their commitments in this sphere.

It is desirable to have more and more such companies in Slovakia, so we do not have to discuss the topic of equal pay over and over again. Equal pay for the work of men and women needs to be a matter of course, and not an issue.

 

 

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