Government postpones gender wage statistics requirement

In May 2002, Denmark's new Liberal/Conservative coalition government postponed indefinitely the implementation of a statutory requirement on employers - introduced by the previous Social Democrat-led government - to produce wage statistics broken down by gender with a view to closing the pay gap between women and men. The new government believes that the requirement imposes too great a bureaucratic burden on companies.

After coming to office in November 2001 (DK0112147F), the new coalition government of the Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Conservative People's Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti) announced that it intended to amend a number of initiatives taken by the former government led by the Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokratiet). One of these measures was the introduction of a duty on enterprises to produce wage statistics broken down by gender (DK0106123N). The aim was to make it easier to resolve the problems relating to equal pay between men and women.

In connection with new measures to reduce the administrative burden on companies, the new government proposed postponing the requirement to produce gender-differentiated wage statistics, stating that this would impose an excessive administrative burden. Thus on 23 May 2002, parliament adopted an amended Act on Equal Pay for Men and Women, stating that the date on which the duty to produce gender-differentiated wage statistics comes into force will be fixed by the Minister for Employment. This means that the requirement has been postponed for an indefinite period. According to the Minister, the social partners have instead been encouraged 'to find alternative ways to ensure equal pay and to come up with proposals as to how they can together continue the work on the problem of equal pay, including the issue of production of equal pay statistics'.

The Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisationen i Danmark, LO) believes that this postponement – like the government's other interventions in the equality area since coming to office (DK0203102F) – is a setback for the efforts to ensure equal pay and, in a wider sense, an ideological hint as to the government's position on equality and equal opportunities for men and women on the labour market.

On the other hand, the Danish Employers' Confederation (Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, DA) is very satisfied with this postponement. When the bill on gender-differentiated wage statistics was tabled in spring 2001, DA had made a major effort to demonstrate that it had been proposed on the wrong basis and that wage statistics broken down by gender were not an appropriate instrument to narrow wage differentials between men and women.

Following the government's decision, LO and DA are now in contact to discuss equal pay and equal opportunities issues.

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