Addressing the gender pay gap: Government and social partner actions – Poland

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Inequality,
  • Pay and income,
  • Working conditions,
  • Published on: 26 April 2010



About
Country:
Poland
Author:
Piotr Sula
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

Comparative research carried out across the world proves that the problem of pay gap between men and women is common in many countries. The scale of this phenomenon may vary and is likewise remedied by different instruments. Based on surveys on good practices of women’s empowerment in the workplace it can be concluded that transnational corporations constitute the vanguard of the firms that promote equal chances for men and women by implementing the patterns verified in other countries on the Polish market.

1. The gender pay gap: national data

1.1. Please provide the reference details (see fact-sheet below), including a brief summary, of the main studies and research on the size and the determinants of the gender pay gap in your country published in the period 1999-2009.

National studies on the gender pay gap: Fact-sheet no. 1

National studies on the gender pay gap

Fact-sheet no. 1

Title

Women in Poland

Authors

Irena Elżbieta Kotowska, Renata Wanda Siemieńska Żochowska, Wiesław Łagodziński

Year of publication

2007

Bibliographic references

Statistical data of the Central Statistical Office (Główny Urząd Statystyczny, GUS)

Link to electronic copy of the report

http://www.stat.gov.pl/cps/rde/xbcr/gus/PUBL_Kobiety_w_Polsce.pdf

Coverage (nation-wide, sectors, occupations, regions, etc: please specify in detail)

The report covers processes concerning population, health, education, labour market, economic situation, use of time, political activity, domestic violence and crime.

Time span (e.g. 1995-2003)

1990 - 2005

Data-set (official, ad-hoc survey or study, etc: please specify in detail)

Information presented in the survey is based on the data of the Central Statistical office and the census.

Type of analyses performed on the data-set (methods, e.g. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition)  
Main results. Unadjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends

Information on the pay comes from the entities that employ more than nine people. The data come from October 2002 and 2004.

The average female pay in 2004 was 83.6 % of the average male pay. During the period from October 2002 to October 2004 the gross remuneration of women increased by 6.7%, while the gross remuneration of men increased by 6%.

Main results. Adjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends

-

Main results. Please list the individual and/or workplace variables taken into consideration in the adjusted gender pay gap (e.g. education, age, seniority, working hours, occupation, region, sector, firm size, etc.)

The gender pay gap in 2004 was broken down with respect to several contextual variables.

As far as the territorial variable was concerned, in the Śląskie Voivodeship (in the Soouth of Poland) the female pay was 79.4% of the male pay and in the Podlaskie Voivodeship (in the East of Poland) it was 92.3%.

As far as the age variable was concerned the lowest gender pay gap was noted in the youngest age group (of under 24) – the female pay was 89.8% of the male pay; whereas in the 35 – 44 age group the female pay was 80% of the male pay, and in the age group of over 65 it was 73.4%.

With regard to education, the biggest gender pay gaps can be found in the groups with the highest and the lowest levels of education. The female pay in the group with the highest level of education was 67.6% of the male pay, and in the group with the lowest level of education (junior high school) the female pay was 73.8% of the male pay. The smallest gender pay gap occurred in the group of people with general high school (secondary) education.

Another variable in the survey was the seniority/tenure. The average pay of women with up to one year’s work practice was 85.1% of the average gross pay of men. In the group with the work practice of 5 to 19 years it stood at 84.1%, and in the group with the work practice of 20 years and more it was equally 84.1%.

There were other groups worth mentioning, in which the gender pay gap was quite significant. For instance in the group of the Members of Parliament, high echelon state officials and executives the female pay constituted 70.9 % of the male remuneration. Within the group of industrial workers and craftsmen the female pay was 65.4% of the male. Elementary occupations: 86.4%; Farming, horticulture, forestry and fishing: 88.3%; Personal services and salesmen: 84.2%. Specialists, technicians and other middle echelon personnel 74.1% - 76.3 %.

It is noteworthy that the gender pay gap did not affect office workers.

In the service sector the biggest differences were found in the financial branch – 64.1%, while the smallest gap was in the transport, storage and telecommunication branches –95.9%.

Main results. Which ‘institutional’ or policy variables (qualitative or quantitative) have been taken into account in the study?

Is there evidence (i.e. in multi-national studies incorporating your country, or when observing a national switch in policies such as, for instance, the introduction of sectoral minimum wages) that certain institutional factors or policies have tended to affect (narrow) the gender pay gap?

“Women in Poland” is a survey based mostly on the presentation and description of the statistical data regarding the status of women in various contexts: social, economic, political and domestic. The authors of the study did not attempt to identify the political and institutional determinants that would enable better to comprehend the differences between the remuneration of men and women.

The notion of the minimum wage in Poland is applicable in all sectors of economy and is not established for individual branches separately.

Main results. The determinants of the gender pay gap: please provide a brief summary

There is a significant gender pay gap within the group of corporate managers. The gap, as it seems, is systematically shrinking, nevertheless, this is mostly due to the information campaigns undertaken by the organisations advocating equal treatment and equal pay of men and women on the same job. The opinions expressed on that matter usually refer to the executive positions, and not the industrial workers, although it is the latter that are affected by the gender pay gap to an even greater degree. It is certainly easier to connect the problem of promotion opportunities for women with the pay discrimination resulting from it in the course of various awareness raising campaigns.

Main results. Policy recommendations: please provide a brief summary

None

* Female pay as a percentage of male pay.

1.2. Are there any studies published in the 1999-2009 period, possibly using qualitative methods, which investigate the social processes which contribute to determining the gender pay gap through selection, occupational segregation, discrimination, and the like? Is there any research on the development of pay gaps during the life course? Do pay gaps emerge at the beginning of the individual careers of women or do they become significant at later stages of professional development? Because of different gendered career paths or because pay gaps tend to increase as the professional career advances (i.e. higher gaps at higher organisation positions)?

It seems that the content of table 1 answers the question in a complex manner. It may also be interesting to look at the results of the research called “Women in Management” (http://www.manpower.pl/download/raporty_manpower/Kobiety/Women_in_Management_Survey_Results_Poland.pdf) conducted in July 2008 by Manpower on a sample group of 528 respondents (358 women and 170 men).

The study contains some very interesting information from the point of view of the present report. It states that 40% of respondents believe there is no relation between gender and good managerial skills. Some 52% of respondents also identified maternity and family duties as the factors that limit the workplace potential of women. As for the possibility of moving up the corporate ladder, 36% of respondents said women would never attain 50% or more top managerial positions in a big company.

Add to this data the fact that as many as 30% of respondents said men made better bosses and only 15% said women did, and it turns out that the most significant stumbling blocks for women who want to attain top positions are cultural limitations (mentality). If the hypothesis that the conservative attitudes are at the source of the distribution of male and female roles proved to be accurate, it would not be surprising that women are also discriminated against when it comes to the pay gap.

1.3. Are there any studies in your country on how gender differentials of pay have been affected by the current economic crisis?

No.

2. Government initiatives to address the gender pay gap

2.1. In light of the current economic crisis, has the national government taken any steps to assess and monitor the impact of the current economic downturn on gender pay inequalities? If yes, please briefly illustrate them, including the results of such assessment. Has the government started any initiatives to prevent or address the possible widening of the gender pay gap because of the economic downturn?

No.

2.2. Please illustrate the major government initiatives to address the gender pay gap put in place since 2005. Since there is extensive legislation on gender equality, interventions are usually of an indirect nature.

Polish governments did not take any actions to reduce the gender pay gap. The programmes implemented so far were aimed at the activisation of women on the labour market and motivation to start up their own businesses.

Among the projects prepared and carried out in 2007 by the Department for Women, Family and Counteracting Discrimination (Departament ds. Kobiet, Rodziny i Przeciwdzialania Dyskryminacji), of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Ministerstwo Pracy i Polityki Społecznej, MPiPS) the following are worth mentioning:

  • “Wanted: 45+: reliable, committed, experienced” was a media campaign addressed at the employers and active women over 45 who wanted to get training and raise their qualifications. The campaign’s objective was to promote an image of 45+ women as having great professional experience, more committed to work than younger persons, loyal to the employer and more motivated.
  • “How good to be a businesswoman!” was run in order to encourage women to start up their own businesses. The campaign involved broadcasts on public television and the website www.przedsiebiorczakobieta.pl providing information.
  • “Moms at work can do more” indicated that a woman raising a child acquires new skills (such as patience) that may come handy in professional career, which should encourage women to try to reconcile work and raising children, and employers to hire moms.
  • “STEREOTYPE versus equal opportunities of men and women in rural areas” was addressed to women in rural communities. Its goal was to enhance the potential of women in the vocational, educational social and personal dimensions. Under the project workshops were organised across the country for 640 women, which taught them about business and animation of local life.

The implementation of the aforementioned projects got the financial support of the European Social Fund.

In November 2008 the Seym passed a law which stated that from 2010 a young mother will be able to spend the 20 weeks long mandatory part of the maternity leave with the new baby plus a few weeks of the facultative leave (the facultative part of the maternity leave is scheduled to be prolonged up to six weeks by 2014). The MP’s also introduced the possibility of using some of the facultative maternity leave by the father (one week in 2010, two weeks in 2011).

2.3. Please illustrate the main initiatives by the government to address the gender pay gap since 2005 in the public sector. Here the government acts as the employer and can intervene more directly, even if often the rules on compensation leave less room for pay differentials.

There is an ongoing discussion in Poland on the affirmative action that would consist in guaranteeing a quota of positions (from 30 to 50%) on the election candidates’ lists and in public administration. The intensity of this debate varies in different periods. The position of the government on the matter of the affirmative action was extensively presented by the Government Plenipotentiary for the Equal Treatment (Pełnomocnik Rządu ds. Równego Traktowania) Elżbieta Radziszewska who said she was against quota systems and emphasised the importance of a widespread educative action as a better solution to the problem.

The amount of the minimum wage in Poland is regulated by the legal act. No additional intervention with respect to the minimum wage is applied by the government.

3. Social partner initiatives to address the gender pay gap

3.1. In light of the current economic crisis, have the social partners, whether unilaterally or jointly, taken any steps to assess and monitor the impact of the current economic downturn on gender pay inequalities? If yes, please briefly illustrate them, including the results of such assessment. Have the social partners started any initiatives to prevent or address the possible widening of the gender pay gap because of the economic downturn?

No.

3.2. Please indicate whether the gender pay gap has figured prominently on the trade union agenda since 2005. Have the trade unions initiated in this period any specific initiatives to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such initiatives.

Trade unions did not initiate any serious action to eliminate gender pay gap. Some of the most noteworthy opinions on the discrimination of women in Poland were expressed in “The Position of the Women’s Committee of The All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions” (Ogólnopolskie Porozumienie Związków Zawodowych, OPZZ) of March 2007 in which the trade unions stressed the importance of this problem and emphasised the need for more intensive government action toward equality.

3.3. Please indicate whether the gender pay gap has figured prominently on the employer associations agenda since 2005. Have the main employer associations initiated in this period any specific initiatives to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such initiatives.

The Polish Confederation of Private Employers Lewiatan (Polska Konfederacja Pracodawców Prywatnych, PKPP Lewiatan) took part in the Gender Index project which, among others, produced the publication called “The Firm of Equal Opportunities” described below.

3.4. Please indicate whether multi-employer collective bargaining has contributed to address the gender pay gap since 2005. Has multi-employer collective bargaining introduced specific clauses or instruments to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such clauses or instruments.

For instance, these could include:

  • Information disclosure rights on wage differentials
  • The establishment of joint committees and observatories or other forms of joint cooperation on pay equity
  • Joint statements on equal pay or gender equality in employment in general
  • Special pay increases for occupations where female employment is particularly high
  • Revision of job classification systems to detect and eliminate discriminatory pay gaps
  • Special training, mentoring and other measures to support women’s career (including for women re-entering employment after maternity)
  • Special work-life balance arrangements to support the career development of women

None of the above actions has been undertaken.

3.5. Please indicate whether single-employer collective bargaining and social dialogue practices at company level have contributed to address the gender pay gap since 2005. Has single-employer collective bargaining introduced specific clauses or instruments to address the gender pay gap at company level? Please illustrate the most important of such clauses or instruments.

As a matter of fact some actions were undertaken at company level to ensure equal status of women. These initiatives are described below under good practices.

3.6. Has the issue of the gender pay gap been particularly important in certain sectors? If yes, please indicate the sectors involved (up to three), the main reasons of such relevance and its most significant expressions and achievements (up to three for each sector - unilateral actions by employers or unions, joint initiatives, collective bargaining).

The data presented so far indicate that the problem of gender pay gap affects the most high ranked officials and managers on the one hand and workers and craftsmen on the other. From the point of view of the sectors the gender pay gap is most conspicuous in financial services. The identification of pay gap between male and female employees done by the GUS does not necessarily provoke employers to take any special initiatives to eliminate it. As has been mentioned before, individual companies implement programmes supporting women’s careers and gender equality at work. Most of those that do are transnational corporations, which make efforts to apply the same solutions with respect to gender equality in all national divisions.

4. Good practices

4.1. Since 2005, have there been any major initiatives to identify, collect and disseminate good practices on equal pay or more generally on gender equality in employment?

A noteworthy initiative here would be the survey called “The Firm of Equal Opportunities. A Guide into Good Practices”. (http://www.globalcompact.org.pl/pol/Aktualno%C5%9Bci/Przewodnik-dobrych-praktyk.-Firma-r%C3%B3wnych-szans). It has been prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of the Gender Index project. It is a publication presenting good practices in management aimed at establishing rules of equal treatment of men and women in the workplace. The authors give advice on how to achieve this goal and provide examples of solutions that have been adopted in some corporations. The group of “exemplary” enterprises contains for instance:

  • GE Money Bank, along with the “GE Women’s Network” society operating with the company and oriented toward helping women’s professional development, mostly through trainings. Heinz, and the project called “Equal opportunities – the project of professional activisation of women”. It is an endeavour undertaken by Heinz in cooperation with the Poviat Labour Office in Gostyn, providing women with different forms of support on the labour market and in consequence aimed at increasing the number of women in employment. The project’s actions were also oriented toward popularising flexible forms of employment.
  • Johnson&Johnson Poland, and the programme called “Women Leadership Initiative”, whose aim was to prepare women to assume managerial functions as well as empowering women in private life.

5. Commentary

5.1. Please provide your own assessment and comments on the initiatives to address the gender pay gap covered by this comparative study, including any further information that you consider important to illustrate the state-of-play of pay equity in your country.

The “Women in Poland” report by the GUS implies a conclusion that a trend has been formed to diminish the pay gap between male and female employees working similar jobs. It is still too early to say if the trend will take a form of a stable tendency. One could certainly agree with the Government Plenipotentiary for the Equal Treatment that institutional solutions cannot be the only way to eliminate or just reduce the gender pay gap. It is also questionable if the debate on the levelling of the retirement age for men and women initiated by the Confederation of Polish Employers (Konfederacja Pracodawców Polskich, KPP) could be treated as an instrument eliminating gender gaps on the labour market. It seems that many decisions will have to be taken with this respect in the years to come, whether because of the expected consequences of the global recession or due to demographic changes which already provoke the Minister of Labour to call for lengthening of working life for man and women alike.

Piotr Sula, the Institute of Public Affairs

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