On Monday, the EU member states have agreed on common principles according to which they should set minimum wages in the future. Social affairs ministers for EU nations approved these draft rules to improve conditions for the poorest groups of working people.
The new rules do not mean fixing the same minimum wage in all countries in the EU, but it does set out how individual states should reach an adequate level. The minimum wage varies significantly across Europe and does not respond flexibly to economic developments. For example, the Scandinavian countries do not have a minimum wage at all. The proposal also aims to strengthen employees’ collective bargaining with employers.
“Decent and fair pay must be ensured for the work done. We cannot accept that people who put all their energy in their job still live in poverty and cannot afford a decent standard of living,” said Slovenian labor minister Janez Cigler Kralj, whose country currently holds the EU Council presidency.
In addition, states that do not have a statutory minimum wage will have to follow another rule. If the collective wage bargaining does not involve at least 70 percent of all employees, these countries will have to prepare a plan to improve the situation.
Representatives of EU governments also agreed on Monday to a common approach to the directive on salary transparency, which is to help eliminate the gender pay gap. Employees will thus have the opportunity to know the criteria according to which an employer determines their salary, and will also have the right to find out what the average earnings of men and women with their same job title. Companies or institutions with more than 250 employees will have to publish data on the gender pay gap every year.
The EU states should agree on the final shape of both regulations in the following months.