Equal Pay: An Introductory Guide

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[Excerpt] Ensuring that the work done by women and men is valued fairly, and ending pay discrimination, is essential to achieving gender equality and a core component of decent work. The principle of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value, as set out in the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), needs to be implemented if equality is to be promoted and pay discrimination is to be addressed effectively, particularly since women and men often do different jobs. While the principle of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value, often referred to as “equal pay”, has been widely endorsed, what it actually entails and how it is applied in practice has proved difficult to grasp. Unequal remuneration is a subtle chronic problem, which is difficult to overcome without a clear understanding of the concepts and the implications for the workplace and society in general, as well as the introduction of proactive measures. The challenge of applying the principle has acquired even more prominence in the context of the current economic crisis, with “equal pay” appearing to some as merely an added cost. This Guide clarifies the concepts underlying the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value and provides guidance on its practical application. While the Guide addresses specifically equal pay between men and women, as this is a long-standing concern of the ILO and continues to raise challenges today, it is hoped that it will also offer insights to address equal pay on grounds other than sex. Equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value can be applied in a variety of ways according to each national context. Thus the national examples provided are not intended to be models that must be followed, but rather approaches that can inspire further thought. The Guide is aimed at government officials, workers’ and employers’ organizations, policy-makers, practitioners, trainers, as well as others interested in this dynamic and evolving area. It draws on the ILO’s policy work in this domain, the technical assistance provided by the Office to ILO’s constituency, and the related comments of the ILO supervisory bodies.
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equal pay; gender; pay discrimination
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