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Germany's family minister urges gender pay gap closure

March 18, 2019

To highlight Germany's "Equal Pay Day," Franziska Giffey has called for action to eliminate the gender pay gap. Women in Germany are paid 21 percent less compared to men in terms of average gross hourly earnings.

Three pairs of legs: two with black trousers and shoes, one with tights and pink high heels
Image: picture-alliance/Empics/P. Toscano

Germany's minister for family affairs on Monday called for action to close the pay gap between men and women. Franziska Giffey told a rally celebrating "Equal Pay Day" at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate that greater transparency is needed to achieve equality between the two genders.

Since 2018, a law has given employees at companies with a staff of more than 200 people the right to information on pay scales under certain conditions. Giffey said this right should be extended.

Read more: Does the adjusted pay gap make Germany look better than it really is?

Germany failed to close its gender pay gap last year, even marginally, federal statisticians revealed earlier this month that gross pay for women was on average 21 per cent less than men. In other words the average woman in Germany earns 21 percent less than the average man, without taking into account what work they do.

Much of the difference has been attributed to heavier family obligations on women. The statistics office also said women tended to choose professions that were poorly paid and frequently worked part time.

The pay discrepancy narrowed to around 6 percent when comparing men and women with comparable experience and qualifications, according to the most recent available figures, from 2014. German law insists on identical base payment for identical work, although even there, it's usually possible to augment a salary with other bonuses based on factors like time served with a company.

Gender Pay Gap around Europe

Read more: German gender pay gap unchanged at 21 percent

World's first women's ticket

Equal Pay Day is celebrated in a string of countries but held on different days. In Germany, it falls on the 77th day of 2019, marking the number of additional days women need to work before they earn the average annual salary of their male colleagues.

To mark the day, Berlin's public transport company, the BVG, reduced the cost of its day travel ticket by about 21 per cent, charging €5.50 ($6.20) instead of the usual €7.00.

Germany's justice minister, Katarina Barley, told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that the discrimination against women in Germany would not be tolerated. 

kw/msh (dpa, epd)

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