“We have a gap of 10 or 11 percent”: Will EU law deliver pay equality in Czechia?

EU countries will have to implement a directive that requires firms to disclose the salaries of employees by 2025. The move is intended to improve gender equality, and aims to eliminate gaps in wages between men and women. While some welcome the new legislation, it has been met with some pushback here in Czechia. I spoke with Anna Kotková of the Gender Studies Centre in Prague to learn more about the legislation and its potential impacts.

“I think that this new EU directive is a good tool to make employers focus on pay transparency, especially with the same positions. In the Czech Republic, we have a pay gap of 10 or 11 percent for the same positions, which is not good, because there is no objective reason to pay women less for the same work, so we definitely welcome this tool.”

You mentioned that women make 10 or 11 percent less than men for the same or comparable work, do you think that this legislation is going to level the playing field for working women in the country?

Illustrative photo: Sigmund,  Unsplash

“I’m not sure if it will help very quickly, but it is motivation for employers, and they will need to do it. At this time, we have almost no tools that force private companies do something about the pay gap, unless they decide to do something about it themselves, or oftentimes international companies have their own transparent rules. Otherwise, the state has almost no general tools for the country that make pay transparent, fair, and equal. Usually when we need to make a change here in Czechia, it comes from the EU because it is a directive and we are obliged to do so.”

There has already been some pushback from firms within Czechia, and this has not even been implemented yet. Why do you think there is this resistance?

“There is a general resistance here to any steps that interfere with the private sector. I think this is heritage from before 1989 from the communist era when everything was controlled. After 1989 we wanted to shift the direction to the private sector being sacred, that no one has a right to interfere with the business of private companies. I think that this is really a relic of this, that anything you want to implement within private companies is not welcome.”