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France to fine firms breaking gender pay gap laws

March 7, 2018

The French government said that despite a "legislative arsenal," on the issue, firms are still moving too slowly. Companies have until 2020 to implement the rules.

Figures of a man and a woman stand on stacks of coins
Image: Joe Giddens/PA/picture-alliance

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented new regulations on Wednesday that will force firms in France to close the gender pay gap in three years or face fines.

Speaking to a group of union leaders and employers at his residence in Paris, Philippe said companies were moving "far too slowly" under present regulations, according to French daily Le Parisien. Although equal pay legislation has been on the books for 45 years, men in France are still paid on average 9 percent more than women in the same job.

"These unjustified wage gaps are pure discrimination and, despite a legislative arsenal on the issues, things are not moving forward," the Ministry of Labor said.

To that end, one of the new measures includes software that any company with more than 50 employees will be required to use to monitor wage discrepancies. A similar tool is already in use in Switzerland and Luxembourg.

The government also plans to step up its random inspections of companies in order to enforce compliances with the laws.

Rooting out gender imbalances in the workforce is an integral part of President Emmanuel Macron's five-year plan for France.

The government plans to have extensive round-tables with experts, union representatives and industry leaders in the coming months in order to craft a raft of new laws to combat the issue.

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.