In terms of the gender pay gap, Slovenia is at the very top of the European Union and is even doing much better than Austria, Sweden, Germany, and all neighbouring countries, according to data released by Eurostat on International Women’s Day.
Inequality between women and men is still present in many areas, and one of the areas where it is most often discussed are earnings. One way to measure this imbalance is to look at the gender pay gap, which shows the difference between the average gross hourly earnings of men and women, expressed as a percentage of the average gross earnings of men per hour. This indicator is calculated for companies with ten or more employees.
Neighbouring countries have a larger gender pay gap
In 2020, women’s gross earnings per hour were on average 13.0 percent lower than those of the men in the EU. In the eight years between 2012 and 2020, the gender pay gap in the EU narrowed from 16.4 percent to13.0 percent. The unadjusted gender pay gap varied between the EU Member States, with the largest differences observed in Latvia (22.3 percent), Estonia (21.1 percent), Austria (18.9 percent), and Germany (18.3 percent).
On the other side of the scale, the differences were smallest in Luxembourg (0.7 percent), Romania (2.4 percent), Slovenia (3.1 percent), and Italy (4.2 percent). This information comes from data recently published by Eurostat. The gender pay gap is larger in all of our neighbouring countries than it is in Slovenia. Austria currently has the biggest gender pay gap, and it is followed by Hungary (17.2 percent) and Croatia (11.2 percent).
In addition to Luxembourg, Romania and Slovenia, the following countries are also above the EU average in terms of the gender pay gap: Italy, Poland, Belgium, Cyprus, Spain, Malta, Croatia, Sweden, Portugal, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Iceland. Meanwhile, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Estonia and Latvia, respectively, all rank below the EU average, in this order.
The gender pay gap is greater in the private sector
The gender pay gap is generally much smaller for new entrants to the labour markets and gradually increases with age. However, these differences between age groups may have different patterns across different countries. In 2020, most EU countries (for which data are available) recorded a larger gender pay gap (in absolute terms) in the private than in the public sector. This may be due to the fact that in most countries, public sector wages are set by transparent wage networks that apply equally to men and women. The gender pay gap ranged from 8.5 percent in Belgium to 22.6 percent in Germany in the private sector, and from -0.6 percent in Poland to 18.4 percent in Latvia in the public sector.
The principle of equal pay for men and women for equal work or work of equal value has been enshrined in European treaties since 1957. The European Commission has emphasised that reducing the pay and pension gap and thus combating poverty among women is one of its main priorities. As part of the 2020-2025 Gender Equality Strategy, it has taken a number of initiatives in this area. The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities welcomes the fact that among the EU Member States, Slovenia is the country with the third-smallest gender pay gap. “In Slovenia, we maintain high participation of women in the labour market. Better working conditions and equal pay for women reduce gender inequality,” they said.
On International Women’s Day, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj reminded everyone that women’s acquired rights are inviolable, and place special emphasis on measures to ensure a better and more equal position for women in the labour market, while preparing measures to facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life. “We want the family policy to become even friendlier and thus make it easier for them to plan their lives in the future,” said the Minister, who also pointed out with satisfaction that during Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the ministers reached an agreement on a directive on the transparency of payments, which will guarantee the right to equal pay for equal work.