Soon, on September 18, 2023, we will once again celebrate International Equal Pay Day. The holiday was established in 2020 by the United Nations with the aim of drawing public attention to the unequal pay system between men and women for their work. There is a reason why legislators of various countries, rulers and organizations at the national and international level are trying to publicize the existing disparities and the need for change in this regard.
How big is the problem?
The publication of the Global Report on Inequality Pay at the World Economic Forum 2022 seems to have made everyone aware of the scale of the problem.
132 years – that’s exactly how long it will take to achieve real gender equality between men and women, according to a recent report. As recently as 2019, it was 100 years.
Undoubtedly, the step backward (or even several steps) in the pursuit of equality was influenced by:
- COVID-19 pandemic;
- stunting the domestic and international economy;
- slowdown in taking action to correct inequalities;
- the disparity between men and women in the best-paid occupations;
- women’s maternity leave;
- the so-called glass ceiling.
However, we can read much more from the “Global Gender Gap Report” study. Looking at the global rankings, we notice that in the rankings for:
- gender equality overall Poland ranks 77th (out of 146 places);
- labor force participation rate, Poland ranks 82nd;
- in terms of wage equality for similar work, we rank 119th.
As can be seen, the widening wage gap in Poland is also evident in the global reference in terms of the gender pay gap for similar work.
The European Parliament reports that as of March 2023, women in the European Union earn on average 13% less than men for the same work.
Do the statistics look different at the national level?
While this question has been answered above, it is worth looking at the statistics kept by Poland’s Central Statistical Office (pol. GUS).
The GUS’s survey “Structure of wages by occupation in October 2020” (data for 2022 is currently being collected and analyzed by the GUS) shows, among other things, that:
- the average monthly gross salary was PLN 5748.24, of which men achieved an average gross salary 6.6% higher than overall, and women 7.0% lower;
- the average gross monthly salary of men was 14.7% higher than that of women;
- in each of the occupational groups presented in the report, men received an average gross monthly salary higher than women.
Steps to narrow the wage gap
At the international level, special attention in the fight against wage inequality is deserving:
- EU work-life balance directive;
- Remuneration Transparency Directive.
But let’s not forget that the employer organizations themselves also often take a number of measures to bridge the gap. By way of example, we can mention here:
- Lidl and its equal treatment policy;
- IKEA and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy;
- Danone and diversity efforts.
When trying to answer the question of where the wage gap comes from, various scenarios and arguments come to mind, ranging from sectoral segregation to unequal participation in unpaid work.
Poignant Social Security (pol. ZUS) statistics, according to which parental leave is taken by only 1% of employee-parents, leave little to add.
Facilitations being introduced at the EU level to reconcile work and family life are certainly a good impetus for change. Changes in which the sense of responsibility for family life rests with both parents.
However, let’s not forget that the wage gap is not only the result of an unequal distribution of household responsibilities. Other economic and social factors also contribute greatly to inequality and must be combated.
Let’s not be afraid to speak out about discrimination – that of wages, gender, age or skin color. Our mission is to publicize existing inequalities and effectively take action to eliminate them.
Paula Staszak-Urbańska, LL.M., Trainee attorney-at-law (PL)