Employers need not reveal pay records, Commission rules

The Scania truck company is not obliged to hand over individual pay records of all its employees - non-union members as well as members of other trade unions - to the Swedish Union for Technical and Clerical Employees in Industry (SIF). This follows a decision in January 1999 by the Equal Opportunities Commission, in a case relating to equal pay for women and men.

The Swedish Act on Equality between Men and Women, section 2, states that employers and employees shall cooperate to promote equality in working life. They shall in particular "endeavour to equalise and prevent differences in pay and other conditions of employment between men and women who perform work which is regarded as equal or of equal value".

Every year, employers must make a review of the existence of pay differentials between men and women in various types of work and for different categories of employees (section 9a). If an employer fails to make this review it may, for example, be ordered to fulfil its obligations under penalty of a fine. Such an order may be issued by the Equal Opportunities Commission (Jämställdhetsnämnden) upon application by the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman (Jämställdhetsombudsmannen, JämO) (section 35).

In January 1997, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman received an application from the regional section of the Swedish Union for Technical and Clerical Employees in Industry (Svenska Industritjänstemannaförbundet, SIF) in Eskilstuna, a town south of Stockholm. The applicant union claimed that during talks with Scania, the major truck company, about pay differentials, SIF had not been permitted to obtain pay records for individual employees who did not belong to SIF. At the end of May 1997, the Ombudsman applied to the Equal Opportunities Commission for an injunction to oblige Scania, under penalty of a fine of SEK 200,000, to perform its statutory duties according to the Act on Equality between Men and Women. The Ombudsman stated that Scania's pay review was deficient because all the unions involved had not collaborated in it.

In January 1999, the Commission decided (Jämställdhetsnämnden Dnr ä 97-1) that the Ombudsman had not shown any reason why an injunction should be issued against Scania. There is nothing in the Act which actually states that either unions or individual employees are obliged to take part in pay surveys. In fact, it does not even specify how such pay surveys should be carried out, the Commission concluded.

The result of this decision is that the employers are not obliged to hand over the pay records of individual employees to the unions while undertaking pay surveys.

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