Every year the European Commission marks the European Equal Pay Day to reach out to Member States on the link between pay, earnings and pension entitlements.

The European Equal Pay Day date is calculated on the Eurostat figure and indicates when women across the EU would stop earning for the rest of the year, in comparison to men. Its results revealed that women work around 2 months for free each year, compared to men, which explains why European Equal Pay Day 2019 was set in November.

Across the 28-country bloc, there is a considerable disparity in pay between genders, ranging from less than 8% in Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Romania to more than 20% in Czechia, Estonia, Germany and United Kingdom. A high pay gap usually characterises a highly segregated labour market, meaning that women are more concentrated in a limited number of sectors and/or professions or in which a significant proportion of women work part-time.

While the overall employment rate for women in Europe is 62.4 %, compared to 74.6 % for men aged 20-64, in terms of part-time work in the EU, women form the majority of 32.6%, against 9.5 % of men.

On average, women in the European Union earn 16% less than their male counterparts. This has a negative impact on their earnings over their lifetimes, career progression, training opportunities, pension rights, unemployment benefits and risk of poverty in old age, all of which affect the gender pay gap. The relative difference in the average gross earnings of genders within the economy as a whole cannot be an indicator of the overall inequality between them, since it only concerns salaried people.

Despite positive signs of improvement, progress is extremely slow in the European Union with the gap only decreasing by 1% over the last 7 years. Yet, Eurobarometer demonstrated that despite the alarming situation, only 26% of European citizens are aware of the legal guarantee of equal pay for equal work.

Factsheet on the gender pay gap 2019. Source: European Commission