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JHL: Legislation needed to support equal pay

(Heikki Jokinen 2.2.2018) Finland needs a clear action programme and proper financing in order for it to promote equal pay, says JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors. It would also be good to consider promoting equal pay by legislation, following Iceland’s example.

These and other measures to promote equal pay appear in the JHL statement on the progress report concerning the Government Action Plan for Gender Equality 2016–2019.

The Union has put forward several proposal measures. One is that shop stewards should have broader access to payroll data than they have at present.This would help clarify what progress is being made in respect of equal pay.

The Union reiterates that in Finland the labour market is still clearly divided into sectors dominated either by women or men. In some professions the development has even gone backwards.

A strong input to promote employment for those with an immigrant background is important, the Union stresses. This could be done, for example, by promoting various ways to offer and provide education or training to parents coming from an immigrant background.

There are many things that can be done in schools when it comes to gender equality. JHL proposes, among other measures, that the work practice programmes in schools take steps to make both boys and girls aware of professions dominated by women or men.

Parental leave has not been included in the Government Action Plan. JHL holds a different view; reforming parental leave cannot be separated from the Action Plan for Gender Equality. The share of parental leave quota for men must be increased.

As part of the Government Action Plan for Gender Equality 2016–2019 Finland has a tripartite Equal Pay Programme for the years 2016 – 2019, jointly agreed among trade union confederations, employers associations and the Government. It aims at narrowing the average gender pay gap, which now stands at around 17 percent, throughout the entire labour market.

If the current development continues, the Programme evaluates that the average gender pay gap would narrow to 12 per cent – or less – across the labour market by the year 2025 at the latest.

During the previous tripartite Equal Pay Programme 2006 – 2015 the gender pay gap was bridged by just over three percentage points down from a roughly twenty percent difference.