What is France doing to reduce the gender pay gap?

On the International Day for the elimination of Violence against Women, November 25, 2017, the French President of the Republic declared that equality between women and men would be “the great national cause of his term in office”. This shows his commitment to this issue, in particular in the professional sphere.

Since 1972, the labour code requires employers to ensure equal remuneration for women and men “for the same job or for work of equal value”.

The law of July 13, 1983 modifying the labour code and the penal code with regard to professional equality between women and men reaffirms the principle of equality in all stages of professional life (recruitment, remuneration, promotion or training). The law establishes the obligation for companies to produce an annual report on the comparative situation of women and men in the company. The objective of the comparative situation report (RSC) is to formalize and quantify professional inequalities.

The law of 9 May 2001 on professional equality between women and men encourages the implementation of “remedial measures aimed at correcting the observed inequalities”. This law also creates an obligation to negotiate on professional equality at company level and at professional branches level (grouping companies in the same sector of activity).

The first Interdepartmental Plan for Professional Equality (2016-2020) aims to develop a culture of real equality between women and men at work. To do this, it tackles the structural inequalities that persist between women and men in terms of employment. It provides for measures aimed at the professional and economic integration of women, broken down into 12 axes and 75 measures. All of them aim to combat the wage and employment gap between women and men and to ensure men and women are equally represented in all professions. This inter-ministerial plan commits each ministry to draw up a roadmap for actions taken for professional equality, which they report on each year at the “Equality Conference”.

Law n ° 2018-771 of September 5, 2018 on the freedom to choose one’s professional future asks of all employers that the objective of eliminating the wage gap between women and men prevails by creating the index of equality between women and men. The index gives an overall rating out of 100 to the company, based on five indicators:

– The gender pay gap,
– The gap in the distribution of individual wage increases,
– The gap in the distribution of promotions,
– The number of wage increases given to women upon their return from maternity leave,
– The number of people of the underrepresented gender among the ten highest remunerations.

The index makes it possible to move from an obligation of means to an obligation of results in matters of equal pay between women and men.

This is required of companies with at least 1 000 employees since March 1, 2019, those with at least 250 employees since September 1, 2019, and those with at least 50 employees as of March 1, 2020. The results must be made public. If it scores less than 75 points out of 100, the company has three years to set up an action plan. In its index is not published, if it fails to implement corrective measures or it the measures are not effective, the company is liable to a financial penalty of up to 1% of its annual payroll.

In order to help companies calculate their index and adopt corrective measures if necessary, several support systems have been put in place:

– Online launch of an Index simulator;
– Publication of an FAQ on the website of the Ministry of Labour;
– Appointment of professional equality referents throughout the territory;
– Organization of training courses and online training;
– Provision of telephone assistance.

Incentives are also implemented to promote equality at work, such as the “Equality Label”. It has been issued on request since 2004 to any private or public body involved in professional equality. The label is awarded after an audit carried out by a committee made up of equal numbers of employees, employers and the State. Likewise, the guide “My company is getting involved”, published in October 2017, provides practical tools to small and medium-sized businesses to promote equality between women and men.

In what way can EPIC be relevant to France?

French authorities and all stakeholders are very mobilized to reduce the pay gap between women and men. This collective commitment has led to a marked improvement in the comparative situation of women and men on the labour market in recent years. However, an unexplained pay gap of 9% persists between men and women with equal skills and positions. France would therefore benefit from an exchange of good practices within the coalition with a view to achieving targets 5 and 8.5 the SDGs by 2030.

France remains convinced that the principle of “equal pay for equal work” cannot be achieved without the strong involvement of all sectors and stakeholders. By providing its members with a platform for exchange and sharing of experiences, EPIC makes it possible to initiate such a dynamic. France will thus be able to pool its knowledge and expertise, while benefiting from the tools made available.