MEPs call for action on equal pay after maternity leave

// 10 October 2006

Two socialist MEPs have called on the European Commission to intervene in the Cadman case in the European Court of Justice, which concluded that employers can pay women who take maternity leave less than their co-workers.

According to EUObserver, Hungarian and Danish socialist MEPs Zita Gurmai and Paul Nyrup Rasmussen wrote to social affairs commissioner Vladimir Spidla calling him to take “immediate action to assess and remedy a potentially major problem” in Europe.

“We are alarmed that taking maternity leave may be a cause of unequal pay,” the letter said.

But it doesn’t look like Spidla is going to take action any time soon:

But Mr Spidla’s spokeswoman told EUobserver that while the commissioner “is in general fully committed to reduce the gender pay gap” and agrees with most of the arguments in the letter, it is not up to him to interpret EU law.

“It is up to the court to interpret the acquis communitaire [the EU’s 80,000 page legal rulebook],” she stated, adding that it is up to the member states to take measures on paternal leave, but saying the issue will be mentioned in a commission paper on demography due on Thursday (12 October).

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