The Principle of Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value. Closing the Gender Pay Gap in Iceland. "So close, yet so far"
Author(s)Briem, Maj Britt
KeywordsEqual pay for work of equal value
gender pay gap
Equal Pay Standard
Law and Political Science
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AbstractThe enunciation of the principle of equality and non-discrimination is of fundamental source in international human rights laws and EU-law and has a prominent place in the Icelandic constitution. The principles of equality and non-discrimination are based on various legal concepts that have evolved mainly in international and regional human rights or equality jurisprudence. International legal provisions guaranteeing the right to equality and non-discrimination are abundant and if discriminatory practices persist it is not for the lack of legal rules but perhaps rather for lack of implementation and effective enforcement of these rules on a domestic level. In recent years the focus seems to have shifted from the negative obligation not to discriminate, to the duty to recognize the difference between people and to take positive action to achieve substantive equality. For the last decades, some comprehensive legal responses to the gender pay gap have been made at the international, EU and Icelandic forum, mainly through promoting the principle of equal pay for work of equal value and non-discrimination. In a global legal context, the most prominent human rights instruments promoting equal pay for work of equal value are the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Together with the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111) they form the international legal and policy framework for promoting the principle of equal pay for work of equal value and non-discrimination in the world of work. However, while the principle of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value, often referred to as “equal pay”, has been widely endorsed, what it actually entails and how it is applied in practice has proved difficult to grasp. In Europe, the principle of equal pay for men and women for work of equal value is embodied in Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast), replaced a number of earlier legislative acts. Due to the slow improvement in closing the gender pay gap the focus is now on ineffective enforcement of the provision and the need for better implementations. Although there has been more than fifty years of equal pay legislation in Iceland, the gender pay gap in the Icelandic labour market has remained resilient. Iceland has emphasised on improving the effectiveness of equal pay legislation aiming at tackling direct and indirect gender wage discrimination and recently made new amendments, the Equal Pay Standard, to the Gender Equality Act no. 10/2008. In this thesis the implementations of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in Icelandic legislations and its effective enforcement will be analyse along with the Equal Pay Standard and its possibilities in closing the gender pay gap in Iceland. Also, how and why undervaluation of women’s work in the Icelandic labour market keeps the gender pay gap alive and if it is contrary to the principle of equal pay. Finally, it will be analysed if the principle of equal pay for work of equal value protects women discriminated against in pay on multiple grounds.
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