International mechanisms to revalue women's work: research

The report reviews different approaches to redress the undervaluation of women’s work and assesses their applicability to the Scottish employment context. The report finds that undervaluation of women’s work is a driver of the gender pay gap and makes recommendations to alleviate this disparity.

Appendix 1 – Case Study 5 – France: The Index Égalité

In 2019 the French GPG was 16.5%[98], with collective bargaing coverage at 98%[99]. In France the introduction of the Index Égalité in 2019 requires private sector companies with 50 or more employees to publish a range of measures calculating the GPG. The Index was extended to the public sector in 2020. In October 2019 the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) took the first class action on the GPG against the Ile-de-France Savings Bank (CEIDF) to secure measures to end an 18% GPG. The Bank claims the GPG is 1% and unions argue that the Index has been used to conceal pay gaps in companies.


The French Government introduced the Index Égalité in 2019, requiring disclosure of the GPG by private sector companies with more than 50 employees. The Index provides a methodology to measure GPGs according to an ‘equal pay for equal work’ principle measuring with a score out of 100 calculated on the following indicators:

1. The GPG between women and men, calculated in reference to the average pay of women compared to the average pay of men, by age cohorts and categories of equivalent jobs (40 points).

2. The rate of disparities in individual pay rises that do not reflect promotions between women and men (20 points).

3. The rate of disparities in promotions between women and men (15 points).

4. The percentage of employees who benefited from a pay rise during the year of their return from maternity leave if there were increases in pay during their leave period (15 points).

5. The number of workers of the under-represented gender among the ten employees who earn the highest wages in the firm (10 points).

Indicators 2 and 3 are combined (35 points) for companies with between 50 to 250 employees. A score lower than 75 requires companies to put in place corrective measures within three years. Workers’ representatives have access to the information. Companies that do not publish their Index or do not implement their scores expose themselves to a maximum penalty of 1% of their wage bill. Publication is expected to be on company websites or circulated to employees by other means.

French unions have a number of criticisms of the Index, in particular employer discretion to determine what constitutes categories of ‘equivalent jobs’. Focusing on the ‘rate’ of disparities in individual pay rises does not reveal the amount of pay actually awarded to both categories. Publishing the rate of disparities in promotions between women and men says nothing about the nature of the promotions. As in other European countries unions are critical of the exclusion of smaller companies.

For the first time in France a group action has been taken on the GPG. Under 2016 judicial reforms class action allows a judge to order measures to put an end to discrimination and redress the harm suffered by all those included in the group concerned with companies summoned before the Paris Tribunal de Grande if management has not addressed the GPG through adequate measures. The CGT had been urging the CEIDF management to enter negotiations over the GPG since June 2019, calculating the gap at 18% or 700 euros per month. It reported that it takes women on average three years longer to get promoted and that they face a ‘glass ceiling’. The bank claims the pay gap is only 1%. In October 2019, the CGT took CEIDF to court over discrimination against women and is at the second stage of proceedings, expecting an outcome in summer 2021.

In 2021 the Finance Act provides that companies with at least 50 employees benefiting from the aid of the economic stimulus plan implemented to address the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and having a score of less than 75/100 on the Index will have to set and publish their targets as well as their correction and salary catch-up measures.


The CGT see these 'group action' proceedings as a way to open ambitious collective bargaining on the GPG, which if successful means that all 2,700 women working for CEIDF can benefit, as they can then join the claim once the judgement has been made. The union suggests that the Index Égalité has been used to conceal pay gaps – a company can claim 95 points out of 100 while maintaining a 10% GPG. While the Index does not solve the problem of the GPG it does expose it and has had a small impact in encouraging the recruitment of women to senior positions and changing attitudes. Application and enforcement remain challenges[100]. The CGT is pursuing wider demands on childcare provision and increasing paternity pay to 100% of salary.


The Index provides much more specific criteria and requirements than UK GPG reporting regulations, including on promotions and the implications of maternity leave on pay. It also necessitates corrective action and allows recourse to the courts. It reflects the potential for group or class action in addressing the GPG and the role the courts might place in enforcement.



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