Pay discrimination

The gender pay gap on the labour market

The gender pay gap on the Finnish labour market is currently approximately 17 percent. This figure is reached when we compare the average salaries paid for regular working hours (Source: Statistics Finland, Index of Wage and Salary Earnings 2013). This pay gap is not the same issue as discrimination regarding pay, as referred to in the equality legislation.

Gender-based discrimination regarding pay is prohibited

The Equality Act prohibits gender-based discrimination regarding pay. In general the Equality Act concerns differences in pay between employees of the same employer.

Applying pay terms in a way that places an employee or employees in a less favourable position because of their gender than one or several other employees doing the same or same level of work for the same employer constitutes discrimination, unless there is an acceptable reason for this. It may also be a case of discrimination if a person is placed at a disadvantage regarding pay because of pregnancy, childbirth or another reason related to their gender. Employees may also not be discriminated against because of their gender identity or gender expression.

Discrimination regarding pay is also prohibited under European Union law. The main sources for these norms are Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the Equal Treatment Directive 2006/54/EC.

These pages describe the main contents of the prohibitions against pay discrimination:
– the definition of pay
– circumstances that affect whether or not there is an assumption of discrimination
– acceptable reasons based on which the assumption of discrimination may be revoked
– protection against pay discrimination based on pregnancy and parental leave
– distribution of the burden of proof during legal proceedings arising from a pay discrimination complaint











Statements on pay discrimination

Do you suspect discrimination?

  • If you suspect that you have been discriminated against you can receive instructions and guidance from the Ombudsman for Equality.
  • In cases of discrimination at work:
    If you are a member of a trade union you should get in touch with the union steward and find out your rights.
  • Guidance from the Ombudsman for Equality is free. The trade union membership fee includes the right to legal advice.
  • You can also contact a legal aid council, a lawyer's office or a lawyer. You will usually be charged for legal services. Check if you have the kind of legal expenses insurance which covers your legal expenses.

    If you are of limited means you may be entitled to the services of a legal aid council for free or for a reduced fee.