In March 2021 the Commission proposed a Directive to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between men and women through pay transparency and enforcement mechanisms - "binding pay transparency measures". Measures include requirements for pay information for job seekers, a right to know the pay levels for workers doing the same work, as well as gender pay gap reporting obligations for big companies. The proposal aims to strengthen the tools for workers to claim their rights and facilitate access to justice. Employers will not be allowed to ask job seekers for their pay history and they will have to provide pay-related anonymised data upon employee request. Employees will also have the right to compensation for discrimination in pay.

However, under the current proposals reporting obligations will apply to companies with 250 employees or more although small and medium companies (SMEs) account for around two-thirds of employment in the EU and 99.8% of all enterprises.

Are these proposals sufficient to address the issue of pay secrecy and strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value which continues to contribute to the persistent gender pay gap?

The EESC hearing will feed into the preparation of its opinion on the Commission's proposals. With the participation of civil society stakeholders and experts, the participants will discuss the role of the EU in achieving pay transparency, the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in practice, and hear the views of representatives of civil society and the social partners. Speakers include: Karen Vandekerckhove, European Commission, Kira Marie Peter-Hansen MEP, Carlien Scheele, EIGE, Esther Lynch, ETUC, Joanna Maycock, European Women's Lobby, Dr. Jane Pillinger - Visiting Senior Research Fellow Open University and Dr Sara Benedi Lahuerta, University College Dublin.