BRUSSELS – The European Union executive wants to force employers to be more open about how much their employees earn in order to make it easier for women to tackle wage imbalances and close the gender pay gap.

Although the gender pay gap in the 27-nation bloc has been reduced to 14% for people doing exactly the same work, the European Commission wants to eradicate inequality by setting specific rules for the publication of wage levels.

“You need transparency for equal pay. Women need to know whether their employers treat them fairly, ”said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The European Union has sought to end these gender biases since it was founded in 1957, but progress has been slow over the decades. In terms of pension entitlements, which reflect working conditions over the past 30 to 40 years, the gender gap is still 30%.

Wage conditions and scales in Europe have long been secret, which has contributed to the expansion of inequality and has proven to be a major hurdle for those who demand wage equity.

This is exactly the point the Commission wants to reach. “Employers need to become more transparent about their wage policy. No more double standards, no more excuses, ”said EU Vice-President Vera Jourova.

Last year, the European Trade Union Confederation said, using data from the EU Statistical Office, women would have to wait an additional 84 years to earn equal pay at the current pace of change.

According to the Commission’s proposals, employers would have to provide information on the starting wage level in the job advertisement and before the interview, during which employers would not be allowed to ask about the previous salary levels of applicants.

Employees may ask employers about the average gender wage level for people doing the same job.

To put more pressure on large companies, the proposal forces companies with more than 250 employees to publish information about any gender pay gap.

When women remain underpaid, the Commission wants them to be able to get a reimbursement and it wants to bear the burden of proof on employers, not the women who challenge them.

The proposal will now go to the European Parliament and EU countries for further discussion before it can be approved.

The announcement was made before International Women’s Day next Monday.

The EU found that women were disproportionately affected by the pandemic and that many had to add more homework to their work schedule due to the closure of schools and daycare centers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has not only consolidated the inequalities and inequalities that already exist in our societies, it is also likely to undo decades of successes women have in advancing the labor market,” said David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament.

Raf Casert, The Associated Press