Austria - All public sector authorities at federal level are obliged to take action to eliminate gender inequality, with the Act on Equal Treatment for Men and Women in the Public Service providing for preferential hiring of women through a quota and preferential treatment for women in promotion and training.
This is voluntary, except for companies undergoing restructuring see main text. Companies are obliged to produce an annual report on gender equality, which must be presented to the works council or trade union representatives.
Ministries, councils, state institutions and state-owned companies with more than 50 employees must, every second year, draw up a report on their equality work. Larger companies were most likely to have a plan, and all ministries had one. France Legal framework for voluntary agreed equality plans law of 13 July Companies with at least 50 employees obliged to draw up annual report on comparative employment position of men and women, which is assessed by employee representatives.
Specific bargaining on gender equality obligatory at company and sector level every three years law of 9 May Germany - Amendment to the Federal Constitution in provides for the government to promote equal opportunity at all levels of its administrative, legislative and social structure. Obligation strengthened by decree of 19 may through introduction of deadlines for drawing up plans and sanctions for non-compliance, plus funding possibilities. Public funding granted for positive action plans or measures since however, funding not always aimed at companies.
Norway General duty on employers to promote gender equality recently introduced amendment to Gender Equality Act, applying from 1 January , and it is not yet clear how employers will meet this obligation. However, some guidelines on implementation from Gender Equality Ombudsman eg referring to measures to promote equality or prevent discrimination.
Companies have to report on equality activities in their annual reports. Private sector legislation There is specific legislation referring to gender equality plans which applies to private sector workplaces in six of the 19 countries considered. However, in only two countries - Finland and Sweden - is there a specific obligation on private sector employers to draw up a gender equality plan as such.
Sweden has the most comprehensive system. In Finland, the Act on Equality between Women and Men , as amended in , introduced an obligation on all employers private or public sector which regularly employ at least 30 workers to include measures to further equality between women and men at the workplace in their annual personnel and training plan or action programme for 'labour protection', and draw up an equality plan at workplace level In Norway, the obligation on employers is rather less specific.
An amendment to the Gender Equality Act was introduced in which states that employers have a duty to promote gender equality, and 'shall make active, targeted and systematic efforts to promote gender equality within their enterprise'. Though there is no explicit mention of gender equality plans in the text, the Gender Equality Ombudsman Liketillingsombudet , which is responsible for enforcing the Act, has provided guidelines on how to implement the duty to promote equality.
These guidelines mention mapping the gender equality situation in order to identify problems, or introducing measures to promote equality or prevent discrimination, and state that companies have to report on their equality activities in their annual reports. In Belgium and France, there is a legislative framework for gender equality plans in private sector workplaces, but these are essentially voluntary. However, in both countries there is an obligation on employers to draw up an annual equality report.
In Belgium, the royal decree of 14 July provides that positive action plans may, voluntarily, be drawn up in private sector companies or at sector level these may lead to a collective agreement or an agreement with a works council. However companies in financial difficulties which want to obtain the special official status of a 'company under restructuring' are obliged to draw up a positive action plan.
Furthermore, since all private sector companies are obliged to provide an annual report on gender equality. The aim of the report is to provide a general overview of the employment conditions, working arrangements, jobs and training of women and men respectively. The report must be presented to the works council or, where there is no council, to trade union representatives.
Though equality plans are not obligatory in private sector companies in France, there is a legal framework for their agreement on a voluntary basis, plus an unusually high level of regulation of other aspects of the issue - see the box below.
The works council may make a recommendation on the report, which must be based on evidence. The annual report must contain relevant statistically-based indicators, and the employer must display these indicators at the workplace. The employees, if they wish, have the right to access this report directly.
The annual report is designed as a bargaining instrument, acting as the prerequisite for the specific negotiations on occupational gender equality which the law requires at company and sector level every three years. The law of 13 July the 'Roudy law' introduced the concept of workplace occupational equality plans, since when two further instruments have been developed to promote occupational gender equality and access for women to various jobs in companies - 'occupational equality contracts' and 'contracts for greater gender balance in employment'.
An equality plan is a legally-specified instrument for the application of gender equality, while equality contracts and contracts for greater gender balance in employment involve state subsidies. Occupational equality plans are agreements which may be reached voluntarily by company management and trade unions.
They are then submitted to the works council for approval. The plans are drafted on the basis of the obligatory annual report presenting a comparative analysis between men and women in the company in terms of recruitment, training, grading according to qualifications, and pay see above.
The timetable for these measures spans a three- to five-year period, and the areas dealt with are recruitment, ongoing vocational training, promotion, access to responsible posts, working conditions and general employment conditions.
Gender equality contracts enable gender equality plans to receive public funding to finance training activities, reforms of job roles and working conditions, or research projects. These contracts are signed by companies and the state. To date, only 22 such contracts have been signed. Contracts for greater gender balance in employment, established in , seek to allow women, on an individual basis, to take on traditionally male jobs in their firm.
They are tripartite contracts signed by the state, the employer and the woman concerned. They may cover the funding of a training course, but also a complete overhaul of working conditions, equipment and facilities to increase levels of take-up of posts by women.
These contracts concern only firms with fewer than employees. The financial incentives are various: Some 1, contracts have been signed since This scheme is more flexible to set up than gender equality contracts and involves more companies, even though the contracts are arranged on an individual basis.
In Italy, there is no obligation on private sector employers to draw up any kind of gender equality plans. The idea is that the law's provisions promoting substantial gender equality at the workplace imply the implementation of relevant innovations and changes in work organisation and human resource management. Financial support is thus granted to organisations in order to minimise the cost of change. A wide range of organisations - both public and private - have access to the funding, though priority is given to positive action projects resulting from an agreement between the social partners Finally, on a similar note, in Ireland there is a publicly funded scheme to encourage the adoption of equality plans by employers - see the box below.
The Authority placed an advertisement in the national press offering its assistance to public and private sector firms to develop equality reviews and action plans.
An equality review as a comprehensive examination of the policies, procedures, practices and perceptions which operate within the workplace and their contribution to equality outcomes and to building an organisational culture that values equality and diversity.
The review provides the material for an action plan, which should define the goals and steps necessary to promote equality and better accommodate diversity in the workplace. The scheme provides funding for an equality auditor a panel of trained auditors has been set up by the Authority , a template from which the organisation and the auditor work, an agreed action plan, and an external review of implementation of the action plan after an agreed time.
An equality steering committee representing all the 'stakeholders' within the participating organisation should work in cooperation with the equality auditor and ensure that the agreed action plan arising from the review is implemented. The initiative is funded by the government to the tune of EUR 6. Employers from all sectors are free to apply for funding under the scheme, though applicants must demonstrate that there is commitment at senior management level to engage actively in a review and implement an equality action plan.
Several public and private sector employers - such as Superquinn, Organon and Dublin Corporation- have already participated in the scheme. Implementation As seen above, there is a legal obligation on private sector employers to draw up gender equality plans in Finland and Sweden. In Finland, responsibility for monitoring whether companies comply with the Gender Equality Act lies with the Office of the Ombudsman for Equality.
In , the Ombudsman conducted a survey among a sample of workplaces covered by the obligation to produce an equality plan introduced in As the Gender Equality Act does not specify the content of equality plans, monitoring of implementation is difficult, though recent incentives had tried to address this issue.
Thus even in those countries that have specific legislation obliging private sector companies to draw up gender equality plans, the implementation in practice is poor, involving little more than a quarter of the companies concerned. In Norway, the new legal duty on employers to promote gender equality has been introduced too recently to allow an assessment of its effects. In the two countries - Belgium and France - where legislation does not make gender equality plans obligatory in the private sector, but provides only a legislative framework to facilitate them, the actual use of such plans is very limited.
In Belgium, only about 10 action plans were recorded between and , since when about three or four have been recorded per year. Furthermore, very few companies comply with the obligation to draw up an annual report on gender equality, since there are no sanctions in place for non-compliance.
In France, only 35 company-specific gender equality plans under the terms of the law have been signed since , mostly in larger companies and in industry. Collective bargaining is increasingly dealing with equality issues, as determined by law, but this is still at a relatively low level overall.
Public sector legislation As indicated in table 2 above, specific legislation on gender equality plans which applies to public sector workplaces - those under the responsibility of public authorities, offices, ministries etc - is more common than legislation applying to the private sector, currently existing in nine of the 19 countries.
In some countries with no private sector provisions, there are public sector ones, while in a number of countries where private sector provisions are voluntary, the public sector rules are mandatory. Overall, the legislation for the public sector is far more developed than that for the private sector.