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European labor policy update –

After significant advances in European labor policy and social rights in the first half of 2022, all eyes are now on the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union to see if this momentum will continue. during the second semester.

The French Presidency of the Council ended in June with agreement on several EU proposals aimed at improving fairness at work, including the directive intended to strengthen gender equality on company boards.

According to the Czech Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Marian Jurečka, gender equality at work will remain one of the priorities of the Council Presidency in the coming months.

Pay transparency

In July, Mr Jurečka announced to EU lawmakers that the presidency would work to advance the Pay Transparency Directive to close the gender pay gap in the EU, which currently stands around 14%.

This proposal for a directive gives job seekers the right to be informed of the salary range for the posts for which they are applying. In addition, they would have access to detailed data by gender, which would allow them to check whether women and men are paid equally for the same or equivalent work.

The new rules require employers who employ at least 250 people to report on gender pay gaps and conduct a wage assessment if the gap exceeds 5% without justification. In addition, victims of wage discrimination would be entitled to compensation.

For the time being, the Council and Parliament are displaying positions “very distant” on this file, declared the Czech minister, who hopes to negotiate the directive ” gradually “.

While lawmakers are pushing to extend the rules to all companies with more than 50 employees, they are also open to negotiations, said MEP Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, co-rapporteur on the dossier.

“We, the Parliament, want this legislation to be implemented as soon as possible and we are ready to work hard to find common ground during the Czech Presidency”she told EURACTIV.

Minimum wage

Meanwhile, the EU is expected to finalize the minimum wage directive after the agreement reached by the European Parliament and Council in June.

Twenty-one member states have already implemented a minimum wage ranging from 363 euros per month in Bulgaria to 2,313 euros per month in Luxembourg, according to Eurostat data published in July.

In the six Member States that do not have a minimum wage in place (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden), wage levels are determined by collective bargaining.

According to the new European legislation, Member States in which a collective agreement protects less than 80% of the workforce must draw up an action plan to extend this coverage.

Parliament is expected to take the final vote on the directive during the September plenary session.

MEP Agnes Jongerius, co-rapporteur on the file in Parliament, expects a favorable vote on the directive due to rising inflation in the EU.

“I think all MEPs are aware that in their member states people have problems making ends meet, paying the bills”she said.

According to her, the EU knows that to get through the current economic and energy crises, “Maintaining purchasing power is really important”.

Minimum income

In the meantime, the Commission is also working on a recommendation on minimum income which should be presented at the end of September.

“We want to start discussing a proposal for a minimum income standard”Mr Jurečka told EU lawmakers, adding that minimum income plays an important role in the fight against poverty.

The proposal should ensure that anyone without sufficient resources has the right to an adequate minimum income. It also provides for measures to encourage people who can work to enter the labor market.

Some Member States have already introduced minimum income, but subject to certain restrictions. In Italy, for example, only people residing for more than ten years can benefit from it, while in France people under 25 are generally not eligible for the minimum income.

The recommendation could encourage national governments to remove these barriers and extend the coverage of minimum income benefits.

Nevertheless, “the actual implementation will depend entirely on the Member States, as the recommendation is not binding”said Peter Verhaeghe, Policy Officer at Caritas Europe.

However, commitment from EU Member States and control systems could “requiring Member States to do a little more to improve the minimum income system in terms of coverage and adequacy”he continued.

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