Gender equality in European labour markets (Exploratory opinion from the European Parliament) - Related Opinions
Teleworking has the potential to support work-life balance and should be a means of promoting gender equality. For this, the burden of the unpaid care and domestic work performed by women must be fully shared with men. Then, the rules applying to the workplace must be applied to the home office, including on health and safety and protection against harassment and violence. As there is no consolidated European framework on telework, it is necessary to assess existing rules' effectiveness. Social partners should review the 2002 Framework Agreement on Telework and give it a new impetus.
Mišljenje EGSO-a: Teleworking and gender equality - conditions so that teleworking does not exacerbate the unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work between women and men and for it to be an engine for promoting gender equality
This opinion, requested by the German Presidency of the Council, makes the following main recommendations:
- data collection and monitoring of diversity policies in the labour market must be improved at all levels;
- the principles of diversity management must be integrated into EU rules and generalised;
- more funds should be allocated to diversity management, in order to support the work of civil society organisations working with racialized groups and the diversity policies put in place by the social partners;
- to tackle the underutilisation of migrants' skills and increase their participation in the labour market, these need to be further recognised. In addition, migrants should benefit from free and universal training, including language courses;
- migrants should be active, not only in the labour market, but also in politics;
This exploratory opinion was requested by the European Parliament with a view to a forthcoming Commission initiative on fair minimum wages. The question of Decent minimum wages across Europe is a complex and sensitive issue. It is important that any EU action is based on accurate analysis and understanding of the situation and sensitivities in the Member States and fully respects the social partners' role and autonomy, as well as the different industrial relations models.
In this opinion the EESC makes the following points:
1. The EU and Member States should ensure that the gender perspective is fully integrated in COVID-19 recovery measures.
2. Gender equality should be fully taken into account in the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
3. The Gender Equality Strategy should be coordinated involving all Member States, social partners and civil society organisations.
4. To put an end to the gender pay gap (16%), binding measures on gender pay transparency are unavoidable.
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The EESC welcomes the efforts made by the EC to address the persistent pay gap between men and women by proposing an Action Plan with eight areas for action, but finds that each area should be further developed. It is important to look at the stereotypes that affect career choices, as well as to the underlying causes of labour market segregation, in order to counter them. It agrees with the EC proposal for pay transparency and pay audits to be introduced in order to facilitate the collection of individualised data and develop appropriate action plans at sector and business level. Moreover, it welcomes the EC recognition of the crucial role social partners play in this, while also highlighting the contribution of civil society organisations. Finally, it insists on the need to obtain additional resources, as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework, to implement the Action Plan, including the financing of childcare facilities and long-term care services.
The EESC thinks the "work-life balance" package is a step in the right direction, to be further analysed and be improved in the future. Social partners throughout Europe should be encouraged to examine additional practical solutions to promote a work-life balance that suits the specificities of workplaces, particularly in SMEs. Moreover, there is need for investment in high-quality, affordable and available care services and facilities for all families, as well as for tax deductions that help working parents to continue working.
Europe's population is getting older. While demand for homecare grows, exploitative conditions persist among "live-in" carer workers, who work in the least regulated informal and semi-formal segments of the sector. The EESC calls on the European Union to work closely with Member States to coordinate the supply and mobility of live-in care workers and respect their rights as part of an overall approach to improve this sector.
No EU institution has so far addressed the issues surrounding live-in care workers, a social group that is expanding as population ages in Europe. The EESC believes that their existence in the European labour market must be recognised and the quality of the services they deliver improved. They should be treated in a similar way to other care workers and enjoy similar protection. Financial support for care recipients also needs to be made available through adequate long-term and sustainable social investment.