Salaries, goodbye secrets: it will be possible to know the pay slips of colleagues

A new EU directive aims to increase transparency: there is also a stop to secrecy on payroll.

The European directive 2023/970 was introduced to address the pay gap between men and women, but also introducing a novelty in terms of the possibility of accessing the payroll of colleagues. As reported by Corriere della Sera, currently, women in Europe earn on average 13% less than men: the directive provides for the prohibition of salary secrecy in order to provide greater transparency on wages and reduce the gender pay gap. The law, which came into force in May, provides that member states, including Italy, have three years to adopt it by 7 June 2026.

Lack of pay transparency is one of the factors contributing to the pay gap. The directive establishes that workers and their representatives have the right to receive clear and comprehensive information on individual and average wage levels, broken down by gender. Furthermore, there should be no contractual clauses that prevent workers from disclosing information about their wages or from inquiring about the wages of other workers. The goal is to provide job applicants with all the information they need to evaluate offers and negotiate their own pay fairly.

The directive applies to both the public and private sectors and recognizes workers’ “right to information”. This allows them to request and receive written information about their pay level and average pay levels by gender, for categories of workers doing the same job or work of equal value. Replies from employers must be provided within two months of the request and, if the information is incomplete or inaccurate, workers have the right to request further clarification.

The directive also establishes that those who have suffered pay discrimination based on gender can obtain compensation which includes the recovery of back pay, bonuses or payments in kind, as well as compensation for missed opportunities, immaterial damage and other relevant damages. In the event of a dispute, the burden of proof is on the employer, who must demonstrate that he has complied with the European rules on the gender pay gap and pay transparency.

Companies with more than 250 employees will have to report annually to the competent national authority on the gender pay gap within their organisation. Smaller businesses will do this every three years. In Italy, companies with more than 50 employees are already required to publish a report on the employment and pay of male and female staff every two years, while smaller companies can do so on a voluntary basis.

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