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Salary discrimination: additional obligations for employers coming up

Publications | Team Employment Law

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In 2022, the gender pay gap in Belgium averaged 5%. That is, women earn on average 5% less per hour than men.

Belgium has already taken several legislative (with for instance the so-called ‘Gender Act’ of 2007) and policy initiatives to reduce the gender pay gap.

Belgium scores better than most other European countries on gender pay inequality, but the average European pay gap is still 12.%.

The EU blames the pay gap, among other things, on the general lack of transparency on pay levels within organizations, which results in pay discrimination and gender bias going unnoticed or being difficult to prove. A new EU directive imposes some transparency obligations that (public and private) employers must comply with, for example:

  • • Job applicants must be informed about the starting salary or salary band of the published vacancy prior to any job interview;

  • • Employers cannot ask job applicants about their remuneration in their current or previous employment relationships;

  • • Employers shall provide their employees with easy access to the criteria used to determine employees' pay, pay levels and pay trends. Those criteria should be objective and gender-neutral;

  • • Employees have the right to written information on their individual pay levels and the average pay levels broken down by gender for categories of employees performing the same or equivalent work;

  • • The directive introduces reporting obligations for companies with more than 99 employees: according to the size of the company, every year or every three years.

Employees who think they have become the victim of salary discrimination, will be able to seek full compensation in court.

EU member states must also provide penalties for breaches of rights and obligations relating to the principle of equal pay.

EU member states have a 3-year period (until 6 June 2026) to adapt their national legislation to the new rules.

Contributions by our experts Jonas Jespers, Karine Roobrouck and Rudi Desmet.