the Women’s Affairs Minister Manuela Schwesig

New pay transparency law in Germany aims to close gender pay gap

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Under the new regulations recently approved by the German government,  workers in companies with more than 200 employees will have the right to know what men and women in equal positions are earning. Businesses with more than 500 staff members will also have to publish regular updates on salary structures to show they are complying with equal pay rules.


According to the Rheinische Post newspaper,  the Women’s Affairs Minister Manuela Schwesig “hailed the law on salary transparency as a real breakthrough that would help millions of women narrow the pay gap. We have to break the taboo that you don’t talk about money, because we want to make sure that men and women aren’t played off against each other when it comes to wages.


Among european countries Germany has one of the widest pay gaps in Europe, ranking only above seven other countries in an Expert Market’s suevey  released in October. Women earn 21.6 percent less than men in Germany – which is a wider margin  than the European average of 16.5 percent, according to 2015 government data. The discrepancy is in part down to the fact that women in Germany tend more often to work in low-paid jobs or sectors, or only part time. For women with the same qualifications doing the same work as a male colleague, the pay gap stands at 7%, according to the women’s affairs ministry. Slovenia, meanwhile, had the smallest gap with women there making on average 96.8 percent of what men earn. This was followed by Malta, Poland, Norway and Italy.


Critics are afraid the new regulations will foster workplace animosity and create additional bureaucracy because of the law.  “Although it is troubling to see the gender pay gap persisting in the EU, it is encouraging to see several potential closure dates in the near futureMichael Horrocks, Expert market. This research indicates that the traditional European powers – UK, France and Germany – could be doing more to help close the gender pay gap.

Last year Germany also implemented for larger business a quota system calling for supervisory boards to have 30 percent women – “women’s quota”  but the country’s boardrooms are still largely male-dominated, according to a recent report.

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