Thursday 3 November is European Equal Pay Day, representing the day in the year when women across Europe stop being paid due to the gender pay gap; with the average hourly wage for women in Europe being 16.7 % lower than it is for men, they in effect work 16% of the year for free.
Ahead of this occasion, First Vice-President Timmermans, Commissioner Thyssen and Commissioner Jourová said:
"If the average European man stops work today, he still gets paid as much this year as the average European woman who keeps working until 31 December. That is not fair, not sustainable and frankly not acceptable. European employers must stop sending the message that women are worth two pay cheques less than men each year.
Men and women in the European Union are equal –that is one of our fundamental values. But on our labour market, even in the year of 2016, this is not yet a reality.
The truth is that the workplace remains an area where women and men don't have the same chances. For equivalent work, men are on average paid more.
The glass-ceiling still exists: although more women have a university degree than men, less than 5% of company leaders in the EU are women. This is a waste of female talent. In general, women often work in lower paid sectors, and in addition, men are less likely to interrupt their careers and to take care of their children or of dependent relatives. As a result, it is most of the time women who spend less time in paid work and have a harder time to combine work and family.
These inequalities are reflected in the hourly pay for women. It is still 16.7 % lower than that of their male colleagues. At the current pace the gender pay gap is declining so slowly that it will be 2086 before women are paid as much as men.
The Commission is committed to work hard to close the gender pay gap. We have consulted social partners and the wider public on how we should better tackle the challenge of work-life balance so that both women and men can achieve their full potential on the labour market while enjoying family life.
Now that the consultations with our social partners are closed, the Commission will come forward with a proposal for working families in 2017 which will not only help working parents and carers to find the right balance between their private and professional life, but will also increase women's participation in the labour market. More equality in the uptake and choice in leave schemes is needed, as well as flexible working arrangements and more affordable childcare. Men should be able to choose to care for their families in the same way as women can do and businesses should be able to retain and promote the skilled women that Europe needs. The Commission will also continue to support Member States' efforts to combat the gender pay gap on the ground.
So today, on European Equal Pay Day, we take a stand to give women and men the same opportunities on the labour market. The same pay for the same work in the same place is not only a fundamental European value, our competitiveness will also depend on allowing female talent to flourish so all of us are lifted up."
More information in the EU and country specific factsheets