Closing the gender pay gap in public services in the context of austerity

Gender Pay Gap

(11 January 2021) EPSU report on the gender pay gap in public services across Europe pointed to positive change between 2010-16 with the gender pay gap falling in education, health and social work and public administration (central and local government) and generally narrower than in the business sector. However, while there is an expectation that the pay gap will be smaller in the public services because of the joint regulation of pay, in a number of countries it has been consistently higher than in the private sector. Austerity-induced measures in the public sector, primarily pay freezes, have impacted upon the gender pay gap. In 12 out of 25 countries, the public sector pay gap had increased between 2007 and 2011, and these are all countries where there have been significant public sector cuts.

This project focusses upon convergence and divergence with regard to the gender pay gap in EU public services in the context of austerity. The project is led by the University of Greenwich (UK) in partnership with ADAPT (Italy), CELSI (Slovakia) and EPSU.

While the wider factors that reproduce the gender pay gap are well known, horizontal and vertical labour market segregation, the concentration of women in part-time work, maternity, gendered and opaque pay systems and discrimination, this project will deepen analysis by identifying how and why austerity has or has not disproportionately affected women’s pay within and between EU countries. It will share and promote expertise by identifying cases, geographically spread across the whole of the EU, where unions have addressed the pay gap. It will capture the interface between collective bargaining and the use of equality legislation, the efficacy of each and how unions can make progress at organisational level in a way that is seen by the actors to translate into outcomes.

The project started in February 2019 and was initially designed to last 18 months. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic an extension of 6 months has been granted. A final conference is planned for 14 January 2021.

Report: EN

Case studies EN

Policy guide: EN, FR

Final conference: agenda 

+ Presentations: