Gender pay gap widens

Pay inequality between men and women is increasing in Slovakia. While in 1996 women's gross average monthly pay was 74.5% of that of men, by 2002 this had fallen below 72%. Wage differentials are greater at higher income levels. A larger proportion of women than men are clustered in the lower wage brackets. Recently, efforts by the social partners and government to address this problem have been stepped up.

Equal pay is an objective in a number of international agreements ratified by the Slovak Republic. Among the most important national documents on this issue are the National Action Plan for Women, the Equal Opportunities Concept for Men and Women (SK0209102F), and the 2003 National Action Plan (NAP) on Employment. The latter contains not only measures aimed at eliminating unjustified wage differentials between men and women but also measures which reflect the need to monitor practical implementation of equal opportunities, including gender analysis of incomes.

The main data source for gender wage differentials is the wage survey carried out by the Slovak Statistical Office (Statistický úrad Slovenskej republiky, SÚ SR). In 2002, SÚ SR organised a sample survey on wage structure, following up a similar survey carried out in 1996-2001. This was done within the framework of an EU PHARE project and in consultation with experts from the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques, INSEE). The survey methodology is based on Eurostat recommendations and relates directly to the relevant EU Council Regulation on statistics on the level and structure of labour costs. At the same time, the sample survey carried out the task laid down in Government Resolution No. 43 (of 14 January 1997) on the implementation of a 'concept on labour costs' developed by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family (Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR SR). The main objective of the survey was to examine the wage structure and wage differentials by occupation, gender, age, education, branch, region and so on.

Results of statistical wage analysis by gender

The Statistical Office's sample survey on the wage structure in 2002 (published in December 2003) shows that men's gross average monthly wage was SKK 16,899 (for an average of 160.54 hours) and that of women was SKK 12,125 (for an average of 158.42 hours). Women's wages were therefore only 71.7% of those of men.

Table 1. Development of women's average monthly wages as a proportion of men's, 1997-2002
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
74.5 78.5 77.0 75.0 75.0 74.1 71.7

Source: Slovak Statistical Office.

The occupational group with the highest average monthly wage was legislators, senior officials and managers (men SKK 39,257 and women SKK 24,400). The lowest average wage for men - SKK 8,386 - was paid by associations of owners of housing and associated land. The lowest average wage for women - SKK 7,429 - was received by those in 'elementary' occupations. Focusing on particular categories, the lowest figures for women's wages as a proportion of men's were as follows:

  • by level of education - 57.9% among employees with a bachelor's degree;
  • by occupational group - 62.1% among legislators, senior officials and managers;
  • by sector - 63.1% in the wholesale and retail trade and in financial intermediation;
  • by age - 65.5% among employees 60 years of age or above;
  • by form of ownership - 66.2% in foreign-owned companies.

In contrast, women's wages were closest to men's in the following categories:

  • by level of education - 81.6% among employees with a higher vocational education;
  • by occupational group - 86.5% among skilled agricultural and fishery workers;
  • by sector - 87.6% in mining;
  • by age - 88.8% among employees aged 20 years or below; and
  • by form of ownership - 111.3% among employees of local government enterprises and services.

In cash terms, the most significant monthly wage differentials between women and men were:

  • by level of education - SKK 10,386 among employees with postgraduate degrees;
  • by occupational group - SKK 14,857 among legislators, senior officials and managers;
  • by sector - SKK 12,587 in financial intermediation;
  • by age - SKK 6,093 among employees between 35 and 39 years of age; and
  • by form of ownership - SKK 7,703 among employees of multinational affiliates.

In contrast, the smallest monthly cash wage differentials were:

  • by level of education - SKK 3,259 among employees with a higher vocational education ;
  • by occupational group - SKK 1,455 among skilled agricultural and fishery workers;
  • by sector - SKK 2,025 among employees working in community, social and personal services;
  • by age - SKK 1,057 among employees aged 20 years or below; and
  • by form of ownership - SKK 255 among employees working for organisations owned by associations, political parties or churches.

Detailed analysis of survey data shows that gender wage differentials are greater the higher one ascends the wage scale. For example, among legislators, senior officials and managers, the occupational group whose average wages are the highest, the gender wage gap is also the widest. A similar situation exists among employees with postgraduate degrees, employees between 35 and 39 years of age, employees in the Bratislava region, employees of foreign-owned enterprises or multinational affiliates, and those working in financial intermediation, the sector which pays the highest wages. Table 2 provides detailed information on the structure of gender wage differentials.

Table 2. Structure of gross average monthly wages (men and women), 2002 (% of total monthly wage)
Wage components Men Women
Basic wage 60.4% (SKK 10,198) 66.8% (SKK 8,098)
Additional payments 9.6% (SKK 1,625) 7.8% (SKK 940)
Bonuses 13.9% (SKK 2,353) 8.6% (SKK 1,042)
Wage compensation 12.1% (SKK 2,041) 12.3% (SKK 1,490)
Other wage components 4.0% (SKK 678) 4.5% (SKK 551)

Source: Slovak Statistical Office.

Clearly, women's and men's wages differ not only in respect of basic pay but also in terms of incentive and other bonus payments.

In 2002, the average monthly wage was SKK 14,597. Table 3 presents the gender wage gap in terms of gross average monthly wage ranges:

Table 3. % of all men and women workers in different wage ranges, 2002 (gross average monthly wages)
Wage range Men Women
Up to SKK 10,000 24.2% 45.2%
SKK 10,001-15,000 36.3% 36.3%
SKK15,001-30,000 32.6% 16.7%
SKK 30,001-60,000 5.7% 1.6%
More than SKK 60,000 1.2% 0.3%

Source: Slovak Statistical Office.

The data show that the wage gap is significant in all ranges except the second (SKK 10,001-15,000), which includes the average wage. Women are disproportionately represented in the two lowest ranges (nearly half of all women employees are in the lowest range), at 81.5% in comparison with only 60.5% of men.

Commentary

The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family is making a special effort to address the long-standing negative wage differentials between men and women. The National Action Plan for Women, the Equal Opportunities Concept for Men and Women and the 2003 NAP contain measures aimed at eliminating the causes of unequal pay for equal work or for work of equal value. The NAP is based on the EU European employment strategy and its employment guidelines (EU0308205F): equal pay comes under the fourth pillar, 'equal opportunities', within the framework of guideline no. 17 'Tackling gender gaps'. The priorities of this guideline include programmes, monitoring mechanisms and practical implementation of sanctions aimed at eliminating gender discrimination in the labour market and in pay. Creating the conditions for progressively eliminating gender segregation in the labour market and in pay (ie the confinement of women to the worst paid sectors and occupations) and stabilising and possibly reducing differences in the average earnings of women and men are closely connected to this. The NAP contains a number of instruments designed to achieve these goals: improvement of legislation and monitoring mechanisms, consciousness-raising, and so on. Constant monitoring of equal pay for equal work or for work of equal value and support for research activities in this field are also important.

In 2001-2, within the context of support for gender research in Slovakia, the Research Institute for Labour, Social Affairs and Family (Výskumný ústav práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny, VÚPSVR) analysed the practical implementation of equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace. Part of this research was a survey on gender pay equality ('Equal opportunities in remuneration of women and men in practice in SR', M. Barošová and K. Gergelová). The results demonstrated that gender wage discrimination affects mainly women. Respondents considered complementary forms of remuneration as the main source of discrimination. In their view, positive change could be achieved by means of: legislation; inclusion of equal opportunities provisions in collective agreements; creation of new institutional mechanisms; improvement of monitoring; real sanctions for failure to uphold equal opportunities; regular consciousness-raising efforts; inclusion of equal opportunities issues in educational curricula; and wider media coverage.

The social partners still pay little attention to equal pay, although the trade unions have begun to take an interest, stimulated by a commission for equal opportunities for men and women established by the Trade Union Confederation of the Slovak Republic (Konfederácia odborových zvazov Slovenskej republiky, KOZ SR). The commission - which advises the KOZ SR presidency - held its opening meeting in June 2003. From the beginning, the commission has been a trade union catalyst in this field and in October 2003 it organised a working meeting of representatives of KOZ SR, MPSVR SR, the Federation of Employers´ Associations of the Slovak Republic (Asociácia zamestnávatelských zvazov a zdruzení Slovenskej republiky, AZZZ SR) and the National Labour Inspectorate (Národný inspektorát práce, NIP). One of the topics discussed was gender wage inequality in the Slovak Republic and the role of the trade unions in addressing it. A national Commission for Equal Opportunities and a Commission on the Status of Women in Society - created at the beginning of May 2003 under the auspices of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights, National Minorities and the Status of Women in Society - are also concerned with the problem of gender wage inequality. The Commission, composed of non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives and experts on gender equality, acts as an advisory body to the Parliamentary Committee. At its fifth meeting, on 26 November 2003, the Commission specifically addressed the issue of equal pay. Recently, the media have shown increasing interest in this problem. (Margita Barosová, Bratislava Centre for Work and Family Studies)

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