France to fine firms in new plan to close pay gap between men and women

The French government has laid out its plans to combat the wage gap in France, with companies told they have three years to comply with the law or else face fines.

France to fine firms in new plan to close pay gap between men and women
Woman demonstrating at equal pay protest in 2016. Photo: The Local
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Thursday the government's plans for closing the country's wage gap.
This discrepancy between men's and women's salaries still sits at 9 percent in France even though the law requiring equal pay for the same work was introduced 35 years ago, the government said.
But the government plans to give firms three years to close the wage gap or face fines.
“These unjustified wage gaps are pure discrimination and, despite a legislative arsenal on the issues, things are not moving forward,” said the Labour Ministry.
Anti-wage gap software
One of the ways in which the government plans to tackle the issue is by rolling out software designed to measure any unjustified pay gaps which will be directly hooked up to a company's payroll system. 
Initially it will be used for businesses with more than 250 employees and by 2020 it will also be introduced to smaller companies of 50 to 249 employees.
Similar software tools are already in use in Switzerland and Luxembourg.
“The software is not a magic wand, but it will reveal certain differences in the pay between men and woman,” Philippe told journalists after meeting with unions and employers.
Inspections to ramp up
The French government also plans to quadruple random inspections of companies in order to make sure they are complying with salary regulations. 
If a company fails to erase a pay gap detected by the software over three years, labour inspectors could impose a fine of up to one percent of the firm’s wage bill.
The government is also set to unveil measures for tackling sexual and gender-based violence at work later on Thursday. 


Strike calls in France on International Women’s Day

Men and women are being called on to finish work at 3.40pm on Monday to highlight the gender pay gap, one of many actions and demonstrations taking place around France to mark International Women's Day.

Strike calls in France on International Women's Day
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Several organisations and unions are calling for a strike to denounce pay inequality.

“On March the 8th, we will be on strike along with women all over the world to refuse to pay the price of the crisis with our jobs, our salaries, our bodies,” several unions including the CGT, FSU and Solidaires said in a press conference.

The objective is to denounce the gender pay gap that continues to impair women’s rights, but also to denounce the unfair burden that the past year’s health crisis has put on women.

“The lockdowns have been very heavy burdens on women for the past year, whether it’s in the health, work or home environments, increase in domestic violence. Not to mention the large amount of predominantly female jobs that have continued to maintained a level of normality during the lockdown,” the co-secretary general of FSU, Murielle Guilbert, told Les Echos.

The below map shows the actions planned around the country on Monday.

In Paris, a demonstration will start in Port-Royal at 1pm and move towards the Place de la République.

Organisations including Osez le féminisme, Les Effrontées and Unef have called women as well as men to go on strike on Monday from 3:40pm, in order to denounce the gender pay gap.

For a full list of actions around the country, click here.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticised by a junior minister for having only one woman among his closest advisers.

“I told him ‘Mr President, you are not giving a good example,” Elisabeth Moreno, a junior minister in charge of gender equality, told French media on Sunday.

She declined to say how the 43-year-old reacted, but she praised him for making gender equality a public priority and for ensuring balanced governments throughout his time in office.

Every cabinet since Macron came to power in 2017 has featured equal numbers of men and women, although both prime ministers have been male and the majority of the top cabinet jobs are currently held by men.

Macron has also been criticised for appointing Gérald Darmanin as his interior minister – the man nominally in charge of the country’s police force – while he is under investigation for rape.