Criminalize the gender wage gap says Dutch trade minister

Lilianne Ploumen (Photo: Commons). (Lilianne Ploumen (Photo: Commons))

Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation wants to make gender based wage gaps a punishable offense. If a company can not show that it pays men and women doing the same job the same salary, that employer should face criminal charges, the PvdA Minister believes, Het Parool reports.

Ploumen will very likely not have a Minister post in the next government, as her PvdA is not expected to form part of the coalition government. She will however be sworn in as a PvdA parliamentarian on Thursday. Before that even happened, she announced a legislative proposal she is working on to criminalize the gender wage gap.

"Women in the Netherlands have to work 64 days more to get the same salary as men, because in the year 2017 they still get 17 percent less salary than their male counterparts." she said. "This must stop."

Currently in the Netherlands it is already agreed that people who do the same job, work the same hour and have the same qualifications must get the same pay at the same company, regardless of gender. But if that does not happen, it is currently up to the woman to prove it. Ploumen wants to turn that around. "The threshold is too high", she said, according to the newspaper. "We need to reverse the burden of proof: the employer must demonstrate that he is paying equal wages for equal work, without an employee first having to sue."

Ploumen's proposal is inspired by a similar law in currently being considered by the Icelandic parliament. It states that all companies with at least 25 employees must prove that they do not discriminate on the rate of pay between men and women. If they can do so, they are issued a certificate valid for three years before they have to prove it again. 

The soon-to-be PvdA parliamentarian thinks that in the Netherlands the Social Affairs and Employment Inspectorate must check this. She also wants it to apply to larger companies, as to not unnecessarily burden starting companies or small businesses. Once the new government is sworn in, Ploumen will develop and submit her legislative proposal.