Alphabetical index
This page is available in 5 languages

We are migrating the content of this website during the first semester of 2014 into the new EUR-Lex web-portal. We apologise if some content is out of date before the migration. We will publish all updates and corrections in the new version of the portal.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Equal treatment as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion


The purpose of this Directive is to ensure equal treatment for men and women in respect of access to employment, vocational training and career advancement, as well as working conditions.


Council Directive 76/207/EEC of 9 February 1976 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions [See amending acts].


The principle of equal treatment means that there should be no discrimination whatsoever on the grounds of sex, either directly or indirectly, by reference in particular to marital or family status. Member States may, however, exclude from the Directive’s scope occupational activities for which, by reason of their nature, or the context in which they are carried out, the sex of the worker constitutes a determining factor.

The Directive is without prejudice to provisions concerning the protection of women (pregnancy, maternity), or to measures to remove existing inequalities which affect women's opportunities in the areas covered by the Directive.

Application of the principle means that there should be no discrimination on grounds of sex in the conditions, including selection criteria, for access to all jobs or posts at all levels of the hierarchy.

The principle applies to access to all types and all levels of vocational guidance, basic and advanced vocational training and retraining.

Application of the principle to working conditions, including conditions governing dismissal, means that men and women must be guaranteed the same conditions.

Member States must take the measures necessary to ensure that:

  • any laws, regulations and administrative provisions contrary to the principle of equality are abolished or amended if they were originally based on a concern for protection which is no longer well-founded;
  • inappropriate provisions included in collective agreements, individual contracts of employment, the internal rules of undertakings or rules governing independent professions can be declared null and void or amended.

Labour and management must be requested to undertake the revision of such provisions in collective agreements.

Persons wronged by failure to apply the principle must have the right to pursue their claims by judicial process.

Employees must be protected against dismissal by the employer as a reaction to a complaint within the undertaking or to any legal proceedings aimed at enforcing compliance with the principle of equal treatment.

The provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and the relevant provisions already in force must be brought to the attention of employees by all appropriate means.

Member States must periodically assess the occupational activities excluded from the field of application of the Directive in order to decide, in the light of social developments, whether there is justification for maintaining the exclusions concerned. They must forward all necessary information to the Commission by the stipulated deadline, to enable it to draw up a report on the application of the Directive.


ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 76/207/EEC



OJ L 39 of 14.2.1976

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2002/73/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2000/0142]



OJ L 269 of 5.10.2002

Directive 2006/54/EC repealing Directive 76/207/CEE from 14.8.2009 [adoption: codecision COD/2004/0084]



OJ L 204 of 26.7.2006

The successive amendments and corrigenda to the Regulation have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of mere documentary value.


Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 29 July 2009 - Report on the application of Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions [COM(2009) 409 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Report was produced by the Commission based on information received from the Member States. The majority of Member States made progress in implementing Directive 2002/73/CE. The main legislative changes shall ensure:

  • access to legal and administrative procedures before and after the labour relationship has ended;
  • the right to legal recourse by any organisation which has legitimate interest in acting on behalf of, or in support of, a victim of discrimination;
  • victims are protected from victimisation as well as third parties assisting the victim.

However, some Member States are still required to amend their legislation significantly, specifically with regard to compensation or reparation for loss or damage and sanction schemes. The Directive provides for the establishment or development of organisations responsible for ensuring and promoting equality. However, their visibility amongst the general public must be improved in the majority of Member States.
The Report stresses that participation of all the stakeholders involved is essential, whether they are employers, representatives from trade unions or civil society organisations. The 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All and financing from the structural funds have also significantly contributed to promoting equality.

Last updated: 07.01.2010
Legal notice | About this site | Search | Contact | Top