Government committed to addressing gender pay gap this year

Stronger enforcement of ‘equal pay for equal work’ by end of year

The government is undergoing a consultation process aimed at addressing the gender pay gap in Malta, equality minister Helena Dalli said today
The government is undergoing a consultation process aimed at addressing the gender pay gap in Malta, equality minister Helena Dalli said today

The government has started a consultation process with employers, unions, social partners and civil society to find the best way to address the gender pay gap in Malta, which is a problem of “discrimination and inequality”, equality minister Helena Dalli has said.

Addressing a press conference on the occasion of Women’s Day, Dalli said that studies have shown that women are being paid less than men, even for doing the same work, despite there being laws enacted in the 1970s which make this illegal.

“More women have entered the workforce due to measures such as free child care. This has caused the gender gap to broaden, because a lot of these women are doing relatively low-paid work, leading to a greater general discrepancy between what men and women earn,” Dalli explained, highlighting that the government will be addressing this situation, which has come about as a result of the partial success of policies to increase female participation.

The problem of women earning less than men is prevalent in almost all developed countries, she said, and Malta was looking at Iceland - which had recently put in place a model to address the gender gap problem - to help in the formulation of measures to equalise pay.

"Women have a higher chance of losing a chance for a promotion - for instance, in cases when they are out on pregnancy leave. They also are at risk of a lower pension if they work reduced hours due to family responsibilities."

"There is both a problem of a gender gap and a pension gap," she said.

Equality permanent secretary Joseph Camilleri said that by the end of the year, there would be changes in the way the employment department spoke with its clients, with the aim of strengthening its investigations into unequal payment practices.

“The social partners have already agreed that we need to enforce what is already in the law,” Camilleri said, “We need to bolster our administrative mechanisms.”

“Our focus is to find ways of gathering more evidence to make sure the ‘equal pay’ rule is abided by. The reforms in this sector should be finalised by end 2018, and we will also be engaging more inspectors.”

Renee Laiviera, equality commissioner, added that it was evident that the average hourly income for women was lower than that for men.

She spoke of a case her team had investigated, where a woman manager’s salary was much lower than that of four other male managers, but after intervention in the matter, the company ended up offering the woman €500 a month more, which accounted for the difference.

The gender gap for women in the European Union, on average, was of 16%, she said. In Malta, it currently stands at 11%, and has increased due to more women starting work but having low incomes.

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