Labour market

No longer taboo: companies must disclose whether they pay male and female workers differently

The wage register, mandatory for all companies, comes into force this Wednesday

3 min
The gender pay gap in Catalonia is currently 22.2%

Thirty years is what it would take at the current rate to eliminate the wage gap between men and women. The conclusion comes from a study by Comisiones Obreras presented last summer, which uses 2018 data from INE and Idescat. Another figure, in this case from Eurostat, confirms wage discrimination between genders: women workers earn 14.8% less per hour than men who do the same job in the European Union. And yet a third piece of information now from the Bank of Spain: when they have a child, men keep their salaries, while women's salaries go down by 11% that same year and by 28% over the course of a decade. In Catalonia, moreover, women earn 22.2% less on average than men

Given this repeated inequality, from this Wednesday all companies in Spain will have to have by law a 'wage record', in which they have to break down how much their workers earn according to gender. In case of non-compliance, the fines they face can reach up to 187,515 euros. Below is all the information on what information the register should include.

What information does the register have to contain?

The document will have to collect all the salary information of the company's staff including managers and senior managers. It will have to specify separately the salaries according to gender and also break it down by labour categories. "It is not necessary to include the individual data of the staff, but the mean and median [the most frequent number] of the salaries including the complements and extra salaries," explains Cuatrecasas partner Lara Vivas. The objective of the regulation, the lawyer explains, is to have an x-ray of whether there are salary differences between men and women within a company, and where.

Do all companies have to have it?

The register must be kept by all companies, regardless of the number of workers they have. However, companies with more than fifty employees and which are required by law to have equality plans must carry out a more in-depth analysis, which includes other parameters such as a classification of "places of equal value" which are evaluated numerically with aspects such as the complexity of the workplace, the training required, etc. "Two workers can have a place of equal value but be in different categories," the lawyer explains.

What happens if the wage difference is 25%?

Companies that have at least 50 workers and with a wage gap equal to or greater than 25% will have to justify in the register the reason for this difference. "They must do so in a proportional, objective and reasonable manner," explains the Cuatrecasas partner. Some of these reasons could be, for example, that one person has more experience than another or has better results. "The problem is when there are systematic differences," she clarifies. Vivas, however, also clarifies that not reaching this 25% does not mean that there is no wage discrimination and there can also be fines.

What are the penalties for not complying with the law?

Failure to register is a breach of labour regulations and, therefore, the company can be fined. Fines vary depending on the severity. For example, not having the document drawn up can lead to a fine of 6,250 euros. If the infringement is more serious because it is proven that there is a situation of pay discrimination, the fine can reach 187,515 euros. The Labour Inspectorate is responsible for monitoring compliance.

Will workers be able to consult the document?

Employees will be able to see all the information in the register through their legal representatives within the company, i.e. their union rep. "Under no circumstances can they access the basic document containing all the data on the workforce that the company has used to draw up the register," the Cuatrecasas lawyer makes clear. If there is no union rep, the worker will only be able to access the percentage differences between men's and women's salaries.

What can a female employee do if she suffers discrimination?

Contact the union rep, consult the human resources department and, as a last resort, go to the labour inspectorate or take legal action.