EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Addressing the gender pay gap: Government and social partner actions – Spain

About

Country: 
Spain
Author: 
Pablo Sanz de Miguel
Institution: 
CIREM

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

In spite of the increasing proportion of women in employment, the gender pay gap remains large in Spain, due to horizontal and vertical segregation, the unbalanced distribution of household and caring work between women and men and the persistence of sexism in the labour market and society at large. In the last few years, relevant governmental measures have been adopted, but their efficacy depends mainly on collective barganining. In the context of the current economic crisis, the government and the social partners are paying scant attention to the gender pay gap.

1. The gender pay gap: national data

1.1. Please provide the reference details (see fact-sheet below), including a brief summary, of the main studies and research on the size and the determinants of the gender pay gap in your country published in the period 1999-2009.

National studies on the gender pay gap

National studies on the gender pay gap

Fact-sheet no. 1

Title

Pay difference and gender pay gap (Diferencia y discriminación salarial por razón de sexo)

Authors

Gema de Cabo Serrano and Mª José Garzón

Year of publication

2007

Bibliographic references

De Cabo, G. Garzón, M (2007). Diferencia y discriminación salarial por razón de sexo. Instituto de la Mujer. Madrid.

Link to electronic copy of the report

http://www.inmujer.migualdad.es/MUJER/publicaciones/docs/ Diferencia%20y%20discriminacio

Coverage (nation-wide, sectors, occupations, regions, etc: please specify in detail)

National

Time span (e.g. 1995-2003)

1995-2002

Data-set (official, ad-hoc survey or study, etc: please specify in detail)

National Statistics Institute (INE) Salary Structure Survey 1995 and 2002

Type of analyses performed on the data-set (methods, e.g. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition)

Statistical multi-variant analysis and econometric models with categorical explanatory variables

Main results. Unadjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends

80% in 2002 as opposed to 74% in 1995

Main results. Adjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends

The gender pay gap is accentuated with age: 91% 16-24 years old as opposed to 71% among people of 50 or over; the highest educational levels: 74% higher studies and 72% with secondary studies or second cycle as opposed to 75% of people without studies; and nationality: 80% for Spaniards as opposed to 75% among foreigners. With respect to the working characteristics, the gender pay gap is higher in part-time contracts (67%). The difference also increases with seniority: 86% for workers of under one year as opposed to 80% for workers of over 10 years; the type of contract (78% permanent as opposed to 89% temporary); and the posts with associated responsibilities (78% as opposed to 86% which do not have such responsibilities). In relation to the size of the company, the salary difference is larger in larger companies. In companies of over 50 workers, women earn 75% of the male salary as opposed to 87% in companies of 10 to 19 workers. The difference is smaller in public companies (83% as opposed to 77% in the private). With regard to working categories there are considerable differences, and clerks (73%), installations and machinery operators (73%), technicians (75%) and company manages (75%) are the occupations with a larger salary breach, which shows that it is the best paid categories which concentrate the larger levels of inequality. Important differences between communities are also highlighted, and the communities with the larger salary breach between men and women are Castilla León (76%), Catalonia (74%), Galicia (81%), Madrid (76%) and Aragon (74%); and those with the lowest figures, Extremadura (93%), Ceuta and Melilla (105%) and the Canary Islands (89%). Finally, the research estimates the discriminatory part of the gender pay difference at 85%, taking the variables which I pointed out in the following table.

Main results. Please list the individual and/or workplace variables taken into consideration in the adjusted gender pay gap (e.g. education, age, seniority, working hours, occupation, region, sector, firm size, etc.)

Personal variables: age, education, nationality. Working variables: seniority, duration of the working day, type of contract (permanent or temporary), responsibility associated with the post and working category. Company variables: size, public or private, size of market and branch of activity.

Main results. Which ‘institutional’ or policy variables (qualitative or quantitative) have been taken into account in the study?

Is there evidence (i.e. in multi-national studies incorporating your country, or when observing a national switch in policies such as, for instance, the introduction of sectoral minimum wages) that certain institutional factors or policies have tended to affect (narrow) the gender pay gap?

No political or institutional variables are taken into account.

Main results. The determinants of the gender pay gap: please provide a brief summary

Allocation of roles depending on gender which implies a greater reproductive and caring workload for women. Poorer salary negotiation by women. Working days that require total availability and make it difficult to achieve reconciliation. Criteria of selection and promotion based on arbitrary factors which give an advantage to men

Main results. Policy recommendations: please provide a brief summary

To sensitise the public administration and social agents. To involve the state to finance services which favour conciliation and, complementarily, to legislate to promote equality in working spaces and sensitise society. To promote the habitual use of non-sexist language. To promote equal opportunities in companies by including gender dimensions in the selection and promotion processes, guiding women on the strategies that they should follow in the said processes and adapting the work time to the family needs of the workers.

Female pay as a percentage of male pay.

National studies on the gender pay gap

National studies on the gender pay gap

Fact-sheet no. 2

Title

National Reports on the Unadjusted and Adjusted Gender Pay Gap. The Gender Pay Gap in Spain

Authors

María Luisa Moltó and Rosario Sánchez

Year of publication

2002

Bibliographic references

Moltó M, Sánchez R. (2002). National Reports on the Unadjusted and Adjusted Gender Pay Gap. The Gender Pay Gap in Spain. EGGE-EC’s Expert Group on Gender and Employment

Link to electronic copy of the report

http://www.mbs.ac.uk/research/europeanemployment/projects/ gendersocial/documents/GPG2002_ES.pdf

Coverage (nation-wide, sectors, occupations, regions, etc: please specify in detail)

National

Time span (e.g. 1995-2003)

1980s and 1990s

Data-set (official, ad-hoc survey or study, etc: please specify in detail)

Salary Structure Survey 1988 and 1995; Survey on the Conditions of Life and Work in Spain 1985-1986; Pilot Study on the Work Discrimination of Women 1988; Survey of Family Budgets 1990-1991, Survey of class structure, awareness and biography 1991; European Community Household Panel Data 1994-1997

Type of analyses performed on the data-set (methods, e.g. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition)

Documentary on statistical analysis of data taken through the secondary sources in the previous table

Main results. Unadjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends

The gender pay gap in 1990 was 70% taking the working day as a reference and 72% taking the month. In 1994 it was slightly reduced to 71% and 73%, respectively. However, taking the annual earnings as a reference, the study observes a small increase in 1997 to 78% as opposed to the 79% observed in 1994.

Main results. Adjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends

The first element to be highlighted is the evolution with respect to the gender pay gap related to the type of contract. While in 1996 the largest breach occurred in temporary contracts (79%) and in jobs without contracts (56%), in 1997 it was in the permanent contracts (78%), as opposed to the temporary (90%) or no contract (71%) which significantly reduced the difference. Concerning the part-time contracts, the gender pay gap increased from 1994 to 1997 (82% as opposed to 72%), whereas it remained stable for full-time workers. Another aspect to highlight concerns the greater female participation in the lowest paid jobs. In this sense, it is relevant that in 1992, 36% of women were paid less than the minimum salary, as opposed to 22% of men. It is also striking that women have always had more points respect to the temporary rate, the difference oscillating between 10 in the early 90s and 5 at the end of the decade. With respect to the pay difference by sectors, the study states that there are differences between manual and non-manual female workers, so while in 1994 female manual workers earned 67% of the average male salary, in 1997 this was 69%, but fell sharply to 61% by 2000. Non-manual female workers on the other hand, passed from 63% in 1994 to 65% in 2000.Within the occupations, the largest differences found in the category of qualified workers in agriculture and fishing, which lay at 35% in 1994 and 53% in 1997. Another outstanding category is that of the legislators, where, the salary difference is very large: 61%, reflecting the importance of the glass ceiling. With respect to age, the survey shows that the inequality increases as the life cycle goes on.

Finally, the article mentions surveys which calculated the rate of discrimination by using Oaxaca decomposition methodology, and particularly the research carried out by Ribour and Hernández Iglesias (1989), which estimated the salary difference explained by discrimination at 80%, taking the variables of the level of education and seniority, that of García et al (2002), which after monitoring work experience and education, estimated discrimination at 74%, or that of Pérez Camarero and Hidalgo Vega (2000) which took the age, the levels of education, work experience, job category, type of contract and size of the company, and estimated the salary difference due to discrimination at 50%

Main results. Please list the individual and/or workplace variables taken into consideration in the adjusted gender pay gap (e.g. education, age, seniority, working hours, occupation, region, sector, firm size, etc.)

Personal variables: age, training. Work variables: seniority, duration of the working day, type of contract (permanent or temporary), responsibility associated with the post and work category.

Main results. Which ‘institutional’ or policy variables (qualitative or quantitative) have been taken into account in the study?

Is there evidence (i.e. in multi-national studies incorporating your country, or when observing a national switch in policies such as, for instance, the introduction of sectoral minimum wages) that certain institutional factors or policies have tended to affect (narrow) the gender pay gap?

Within the institutional variables, importance is given to collective bargaining, which is considered the main vehicle for mitigating inequalities but also the means by which the discriminatory practices rooted in custom are reproduced and reinforced.

From the duality which characterises the bargaining, the investigation argues that the first problem is found in the overrepresentation of women in sectors such as textile or trade, where there is great pressure surrounding the salary costs and therefore little margin for negotiating substantial improvements.

Along with this, the tendency is highlighted of the decentralisation of collective bargaining, which is paired with an increase in inequality based on the greater presence of women in small companies with less negotiating power.

Finally, the authors point to the differences in the quality of the collective bargaining between sectors, stressing that it is the service sector (which concentrates more women) which presents smaller annual pay increases.

Concerning the content of collective bargaining, the authors appreciate a fast change which can be seen in the larger number of agreements which include clauses on equal opportunities, which passed from 11% in 1993 to 15% in 2000. Along with this, they highlight the inclusion of aspects concerning the organisation of work time, occupational classification, contracts and employment generation, which deal with questions that are relevant for mitigating gender inequalities

Another institutional variable they analyse is the Interprofessional Minimum Salary, and they conclude that its establishment at very low levels (35% of the average salary in 2001) fails to guarantee the proliferation of low paid jobs mainly held by women.

Finally, they highlight the negative effects of the deregulation implemented with the job market reform of 2001 which, amongst other things, in part-time contracts eliminated the demand for a minimum 78% of the full working day for an equivalent job. With regard to the reform, they positively assess the law of work and family conciliation, which establishes an independent maternity subsidy for the self-employed and domestic workers

Main results. The determinants of the gender pay gap: please provide a brief summary

The main causes behind pay gaps are, first of all, the overrepresentation of women in poorly paid sectors with little power to be able to negotiate salary improvements in the covenants. The situation is strengthened institutionally with excessively weak legislation on low salaries. Similarly, certain criteria which determine the establishment of retributions such as salary complements (which determine 50% of the inequality), are still being defined in accordance with criteria that penalise women, such as seniority. In a complementary manner, the existence of double scales for pay in permanent and temporary male and female workers exacerbates the inequality still more greater weight female workers in temporality.

Main results. Policy recommendations: please provide a brief summary

The investigation makes no recommendations.

1.2. Are there any studies published in the 1999-2009 period, possibly using qualitative methods, which investigate the social processes which contribute to determining the gender pay gap through selection, occupational segregation, discrimination, and the like? Is there any research on the development of pay gaps during the life course? Do pay gaps emerge at the beginning of the individual careers of women or do they become significant at later stages of professional development? Because of different gendered career paths or because pay gaps tend to increase as the professional career advances (i.e. higher gaps at higher organisation positions)?

Within the specialised literature which has dealt with the subject of inequalities in the Spanish labour market, particularly noteworthy is the article Las asalariadas: un mercado con género (Female employees: a market with gender) written by Teresa Torns and published in the book Las relaciones de empleo en España (Employment relations in Spain) (1999) directed by Faustino Miguélez.

Here the author draws out the main contributions of feminist theory in Spain, assessing its appearance in so far as they made female work visible and reconceptualised the work itself. Recognising this baggage, Torns defines the theoretical focus as production/reproduction, explaining the existence of two different spheres marked by relationships of inequality that lead to subordination in the sphere of human reproduction (care of the family and household), where women are mainly located, as opposed to that of production (paid work market), which is occupied by men.

From this perspective, the author deals with the main transformations occurring in the Spanish labour market and says that, following the figures which show a massive incorporation of women, there are considerable inequalities between genders which should be analysed.

In this way, Torns points to the existence of considerable horizontal segregation based on a greater location of women in posts where they develop the skills of a mother and wife learnt in a differential gender socialisation (teaching, health, cleaning, etc.). This segregation coexists with indirect labour discrimination which causes large pay gaps due mainly to three causes: unequal location in the occupational structure; the existence of hindrances on professional promotion; and sexism in the construction of professional categories.

Along with this, the author stresses the greater female tendency towards temporary work and above all to part-time contracts (17% of women are part-timers, as opposed to 3% of men), arguing that the greater female weight in reproductive work, and even more so at adult age, clearly restricts women’s opportunities, who are forced to accept more “flexible”, shorter duration work that allows them to combine employment with work derived from the tasks of reproduction. A fact which puts women at a considerable disadvantage as a result of their absence with respect to social coverage, which many part time jobs fail to offer, the probable increase in work precariousness derived from the sum of temporality and partiality, and female income which, for women working on temporary and part-time contracts, would be around 40% of the male (almost all of whom work full-time), widening still further the existing pay gap.

Finally, the author concludes by recognising certain developments derived from the application of equal opportunity policies at work, started in the 1980s with the creation of the Women's Institute (Instituto de la Mujer, 1983), recognising the importance of European initiatives to which Spain has replied positively partly due to its dependence on European funds, both in orientation and resources. In the same way, she recommends moving away from the productivist focus which rewards the inclusion of women in the labour market without bearing in mind gender inequality, or the double workload suffered by women, vindicating the economic and social importance of the invisible work done by women in attending the home and the family.

1.3. Are there any studies in your country on how gender differentials of pay have been affected by the current economic crisis?

There are currently no studies on how the crisis has affected the pay differences between men and women.

2. Government initiatives to address the gender pay gap

2.1. In light of the current economic crisis, has the national government taken any steps to assess and monitor the impact of the current economic downturn on gender pay gaps? If yes, please briefly illustrate them, including the results of such assessment. Has the government started any initiatives to prevent or address the possible widening of the gender pay gap because of the economic downturn?

The Spanish government has taken no action to control the impact of the crisis on gender pay gaps.

2.2. Please illustrate the major government initiatives to address the gender pay gap put in place since 2005. Since there is extensive legislation on gender equality, interventions are usually of an indirect nature.

Since 2005, the greatest governmental initiative aimed at combating gender pay discrimination was the Organic Law 3/2007, for Effective Equality between Women and Men, which was enforced in 2007 (Ley Orgánica 3/2007, para la Igualdad Efectiva entre Mujeres y Hombres). Its main contributions directly and indirectly affecting pay discrimination are the following:

  • In title I, chapter 5 establishes the principle of equal opportunities in access to employment, training, promotion and working conditions. Also relevant are chapter 6, which defines the criteria of direct and indirect discrimination and chapter 7, which expands the cases which constitute sexual harassment.
  • Secondly, title IV can be highlighted, regulating the right to work under equal opportunities, which introduces programs aimed at improving employability concerning both continuous and occupational training; measures for promoting equality in collective bargaining; measures for enhancing conciliation between working, personal and family life and particularly the creation of paternity leave and allowance. Also relevant in this title is chapter 45, which nurtures the adoption of measures aimed at achieving effective equality between men and women by obliging companies with over 250 workers to draw up and apply equality plans, which have to contain an orderly set of measures approved once the situation has been diagnosed, dealing with the following matters: access to work; professional classification; promotion and training, payroll retributions; organisation of work time to be able to reconcile working and family life; prevention of sexual harassment. In the same way the law recognises the duty of companies to draw up equality plans when this is established in the collective bargaining applicable to them. Furthermore, the possibility is foreseen of companies establishing equality plans in the place of the sanctioning procedures determined by work authorities. As a complement to this, the government agrees to encourage voluntary equality plans in small and medium-sized companies. In this area of encouraging good practices, chapter V establishes the creation of a mark granted by the Ministry of Employment and Immigration in recognition to companies which stand out as having drawn up and applied equality policies.
  • Thirdly, title V regulates the principle of equality in public employment (a point to be developed in question 2.3)
  • Fourthly, title VII covers measures aimed at encouraging, raising awareness and publishing practices of corporate social responsibility in areas of equality.

Another outstanding aspect in terms of pay equality is the reinforcement of Work Inspection to encourage the effective application of equality plans. Therefore, Work Inspection has drawn up the guide which includes a chapter on the diagnosis of situations in companies and Equality Plans.

Finally, the ‘Strategic plan of equal opportunities 2008-2011’ must be recognised as a primordial measure that introduces aspects such as paritary democracy (balanced representation of men and women), increased female participation in posts of management and responsibility, and the fight against indirect discrimination, by developing the principles approved in the law for effective equality between men and women.

2.3. Please illustrate the main initiatives by the government to address the gender pay gap since 2005 in the public sector. Here the government acts as the employer and can intervene more directly, even if often the rules on compensation leave less room for pay differentials.

Title V of the Organic Law 3/2007 regulates the principle of equality in public employment by introducing a large number of articles which directly and indirectly deal with the principal causes behind the pay differences between men and women in the public sector: unequal distribution in the occupational structure, fewer possibilities of receiving training and promotion, low female presence in the selection bodies, scarce evaluative measures intended to assess developments in equality, low female presence in management posts (glass ceiling).

Looking at these aspects, the first outstanding point is article 51, which establishes the criteria of action of public administrations by introducing the “duty” of facilitating reconciliation, equal treatment in access to work, the nurturing of training under equal conditions, the promotion of a balanced presence of men and women in the selection and assessment bodies, the establishment of effective measures for eliminating direct and indirect pay discrimination and the duty of periodically evaluating the principle of equality.

Chapter 2 deals with the principle of a balanced presence in the administration and the public bodies associated with it, by establishing that a balanced presence between sexes must be maintained in all areas, except for reasons that are “founded and objective, duly motivated”.

Also important in Chapter 3 is article 55, which establishes that for every call to public employment a gender impact report must be drawn up, except in cases of urgency. In the same chapter, article 60 establishes positive training actions aimed at people who come back after maternity or paternity leave or following leave for reasons of legal guard and attention to elderly dependant or disabled. Alongside this, the article establishes that 40% of places will be reserved for women in calls to training courses, in order to promote female professional promotion to management posts. Finally, article 61 introduces the duty of the public administration and associated bodies to give training courses on equal treatment and equal opportunities.

With respect to the evaluation measures, article 63 requires ministerial departments and public bodies to draw up an annual report dealing with the effective application of the principle of equality between men and women, providing sex-disaggregated information concerning the distribution of the payroll, pay, qualification and level of average additional complements and retributions of the staff. Likewise, article 64 establishes that the government would approve an equality plan each year for the general state administration and the public bodies linked to it, negotiated with the workers’ legal representatives, which will be evaluated each year.

Finally, chapter 5 regulates support of equality in the state security forces and bodies, establishing in article 68 the obligation of applying the rules referring to equality among public administration staff to this sector.

3. Social partner initiatives to address the gender pay gap

3.1. In light of the current economic crisis, have the social partners, whether unilaterally or jointly, taken any steps to assess and monitor the impact of the current economic downturn on gender pay gaps? If yes, please briefly illustrate them, including the results of such assessment. Have the social partners started any initiatives to prevent or address the possible widening of the gender pay gap because of the economic downturn?

In general, the social partners have not paid great attention to the impact of the economic downturn on gender pay gap. As every 8th March, the General Workers’ Confederation (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT) published a report in 2009 dealing with the main figures referring to female employment and unemployment in Spain. However, despite presenting a section on pay inequality, the absence of updated figures prevents them from offering a diagnosis of the current situation. This is because the main survey which offers information broken down by sex concerning the structure and distribution of salaries, the Salary Structure Survey, is carried out every four years and only that for 2006 is currently available. Bearing in mind this limitation, the report does present some significant data such as, for instance, the inequality between men and women with respect to receiving the unemployment allowance. In this sense the report says that only one out of every three receivers are women, due to the greater weight of temporary contracts among women, which prevents them from accumulating the minimum time required for receiving the allowance.

3.2. Please indicate whether the gender pay gap has figured prominently on the trade union agenda since 2005. Have the trade unions initiated in this period any specific initiatives to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such initiatives.

In 2001, the UGT started a project financed by the European commission and the Women's Institute aimed at eliminating gender stereotypes in the working realm and in the union organisations. The main objective of this was to nurture the elimination of gender stereotypes by analysing the roles and processes which cause segregation and identifying the changes needed for eliminating the gender stereotypes in the union and business organisations, in the labour market and in professional training. The project concluded in 2005 with a guide for eliminating gender stereotypes in the working realm and union organisations, and a catalogue for eliminating gender stereotypes.

The Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras, CCOO) drew up a guide of good practices in assessing work in 2001, and a study on employment and pay discrimination from the perspective of gender in the year 2000. Since 2005, there has been no action specifically related to pay discrimination.

3.3. Please indicate whether the gender pay gap has figured prominently on the employer associations agenda since 2005. Have the main employer associations initiated in this period any specific initiatives to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such initiatives.

The gender pay gap has not received attention from the most representative employers associations (the Spanish Confederation of Employers' Organisations -Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales, CEOE- and the Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises -Confederación Española de la Pequeña y Mediana Empresa, CEPYME) beyond that afforded in collective bargaining and the collective agreements. This is mainly due because the employers associations associate the pay inequalities with objective differences in the training and productivity levels of male and female workers, or inequalities which emerge in the home and fall outside the reach of the entrepreneur.

3.4. Please indicate whether multi-employer collective bargaining has contributed to address the gender pay gap since 2005. Has multi-employer collective bargaining introduced specific clauses or instruments to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such clauses or instruments.

Within the bipartite negotiation instruments, we can highlight the Interconfederal Agreement for Collective Bargaining (ANC), which is a commitment between the most representative employers and union organisations (CEOE and CEPYME; UGT and CCOO) to deal with the essential contents of collective covenants based on a shared diagnosis, which translates into the establishment of priorities and criteria for negotiating in covenants. Within the different ANC that had been signed each year since 2002 (except 2009), the subjects to be dealt with in the collective covenants have brought in the following aspects: the inclusion of clauses of positive action to enhance the inclusion of women in masculinised sectors; the establishment of criteria for turning temporary contracts into permanent ones which favour women in the situations in which they are more affected by temporality; the study and/or establishment of objective and neutral systems of selection, classification, promotion and training based on gender; the elimination of any retributive differences there might be due to the undue application of the principle of equal pay for equal jobs; the elimination of sexist names in professional classifications.

Likewise, the agreement signed in 2008, which establishes an extension of one year over the previous one, includes and develops the legislative modifications introduced with the Organic Law 3/2007, developed in question 2.2. Of particular note in this area is the duty of negotiating equality plans in the collective bargaining in the upper echelons of the company and in the collective bargaining of companies of over 250 workers.

3.5. Please indicate whether single-employer collective bargaining and social dialogue practices at company level have contributed to address the gender pay gap since 2005. Has single-employer collective bargaining introduced specific clauses or instruments to address the gender pay gap at company level? Please illustrate the most important of such clauses or instruments.

The Interconfederal Agreement for Collective Bargaining (ANC) has passed on objectives and commitments to companies concerning the treatment of equal opportunities. In the same way, the Organic Law 3/2007 has brought in developments requiring companies of over 250 workers to draw up equality plans. Both factors are highlighted by the 2008 ‘Report on the socio-economic and employment situation in Spain’ of the Economic and Social Council (Consejo Económico y Social, CES) due to their contribution to renewing the contents of collective bargaining in companies.

The report, analysing a sample of 46 company agreements shows a growing tendency to include clauses of non-discrimination. Two out of every three company agreements referring to equality plans created a paritary commission of equality, or referred to the paritary commission of the overriding covenant for drawing up a diagnosis, and later an equality plan. Furthermore, it is seen that it is mainly the companies that diagnose and implement the plan without turning to external entities.

With respect to the contents observed, the report highlights some agreements which increase the legally established leave (two years) for family care. Other subjects included in the studied company agreements were the possibility of women replacing their breast feeding time with an accumulation in whole days (30% of the agreement studied) and aspects related to preventing sexual harassment (13%). Agreements also appear which have introduced neutral language clauses. The downside is that hardly any positive actions are seen, and those which are brought in are generally not very specific and remain a mere declaration of intentions.

3.6. Has the issue of the gender pay gap been particularly important in certain sectors? If yes, please indicate the sectors involved (up to three), the main reasons of such relevance and its most significant expressions and achievements (up to three for each sector - unilateral actions by employers or unions, joint initiatives, collective bargaining).

Taking into account the available information, the main conclusion that can be drawn is that the treatment of pay inequality in collective agreements is more variable when referring to the area than to the sector, being the national and the company collective agreements those with the best results. According to the 2008 CES report, 40% of the analysed national collective agreements included equality clauses, as opposed to 13% in the autonomic (regional) agreements. Furthermore, in the analysed provincial agreements (33) no clause or reference was found to equality plans.

4. Good practices

4.1. Since 2005, have there been any major initiatives to identify, collect and disseminate good practices on equal pay or more generally on gender equality in employment?

The Organic Law 3/2007, in its article 50, provides for the concession of equality marking for companies standing out in applying equality plans relative both to the working conditions and to the organisation or other areas (service, advertising, etc.).

The main criteria which determine the concession of this marking are the balanced participation of women and men in posts of greater responsibility and decision taking, and the establishment of remuneration of classification systems that combat the potential discriminations rooted in a sexist conception of the value of work. Alongside this, an assessment will also be made of the measures implemented to enhance the conciliation of professional and family life.

Along with the criteria defined for its awarding, the law establishes control procedures which might lead to the marking being withdrawn.

This preliminary project is still in the consultation stage and is expected to be published in the last quarter of 2009. Therefore it is not yet possible to show and identify the outstanding good practices.

5. Commentary

5.1. Please provide your own assessment and comments on the initiatives to address the gender pay gap covered by this comparative study, including any further information that you consider important to illustrate the state-of-play of pay equity in your country.

Pay inequality between men and women is a phenomenon which is complicated to measure and even more difficult to deal with. However, the development of ever more methologically refined studies, accompanied by new theoretical approaches which deal with gender as the main axis of inequalities, have shown the difference in opportunities between men and women, revealing a panorama marked by horizontal segregation which drives women to the more poorly paid jobs, or, if you prefer, more poorly pays feminised jobs, based on a highly sexist construction of the working categories and the presence of gender stereotypes; and vertical segregation, which makes it difficult for women to reach posts of responsibility. Complementary to this, the studies have shown the greater tendency for women to be located in occupations removed from standard employment (temporary contracts, part-time, etc.) and to have lower levels of social protection and retribution.

The last governmental measures described in this article undoubtedly suppose a great advance in so far as they provide a new diagnosis of the reality which includes all of the intellectual baggage of the most recent studies, recognising the main causes behind the pay inequality. However, the same application of the law, which is not very specific in certain aspects and even lax in others, basically depends on the social agents, provided in the collective bargaining with an important instrument for introducing antidiscriminatory measures which should enhance the labour promotion of women and end with the sexist criteria regarding the collection of complements, which usually penalise women. The collective bargaining decentralisation process must be taken very much into account as it may introduce certain recoils in the fight against pay discrimination, by leaving unprotected a large number of female workers with little negotiating power.

In parallel, it will be necessary to consider the double workload related to the greater participation of women in reproductive work as an aspect which limits women's opportunities and directly affects pay inequality, and maybe the state should play a greater role in areas such as prep school education (0 to 3 years). Likewise, it may be advisable to consider the importance of increasing the minimum salary or introducing new instruments to confront the problem of low-paid jobs, in which women are in the majority.

Pablo Sanz de Miguel, CIREM