EU ministers discuss gender equality, labor law at Brussels meeting

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Centre).
Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Centre). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

A meeting of European Union employment and social affairs ministers in Brussels on Tuesday focused on the future of gender equality, labor law, as well as how to support helping people with a reduced capacity for work reach and remain on the labor market.

On the subject of improving gender balance in shaping EU policy, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Centre) considered it important that goals already set on the European level remain in focus, according to a ministry press release.

"Although progress toward gender balance in Estonia has been more rapid than in other member states in recent years, it remains concerning that our pay gap between women and men remains higher than the EU average," Kiik said. "This will start affecting pensions in the future as well, which will in turn lead to a pension gap as well."

According to the ministry, Estonia must continue to stay focused on increasing women's participation in the labor market and ensuring their equal financial independence; reducing gender pay, income and pension gaps; the promotion of equal participation in decision-making; the fight against gender-based violence; and the promotion of women's rights worldwide. It is also important to take into consideration new challenges arising from digital and technological development as well.

In the ministers' discussion regarding the future of EU labor law, Kiik stressed that it is important to first and foremost implement existing law, and to avoid overregulation.

"In the near future, we in the EU have to focus on the efficient implementation of labor law rules," the Estonian minister said. "Member states have to develop social protection, occupational safety and tax systems that work in the case of new forms of employment to ensure that they do not impede the development of new business models."

Kiik highlighted the national minimum wage framework in use in Estonia, according to which the minimum wage is set according to an agreement between representatives of employers and unions.



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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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