Spain is starting to take steps to hold companies accountable for contributing to the gender pay gap.
The Spanish government enacted measures on Tuesday requiring that companies release employee salary information or pay a fine, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The regulation, approved earlier this year, will fine companies €187,000 ($220,000) if they do not share how they decide base salaries and other benefits with employees.
Under the new law, companies that employ more than 50 people also have to file their four-year strategy for balancing the number of male and female employees at their workplace.
“The message is very clear: women must be paid the same as men for doing the same jobs,” Equality Minister Irene Montero said at a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting, according to Reuters.
Montero went on to warn that the government needs to take action and help prevent the gender pay gap from worsening due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ending the pay gap will be crucial to economic recovery, she added.
Women were one of the groups hit hardest by unemployment during the pandemic, according to government data.
The regulations aim to “bring to the surface labor inequalities and give workers the tools to eliminate them,” Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz said, according to the AP.
Díaz also called the gender pay gap a “democratic aberration,” at a press conference, according to the AP.
Although Spain is one of the top 10 countries for gender equality, women in the country still earn 22% less than their male colleagues, the Spanish government reports. What’s more, nearly 27% of people living in poverty are women — 2% more than the number of men living in poverty.
The overrepresentation of women in low-paying industries, the imbalanced care burden placed on women, discrimination, and lack of female representation in executive positions all contribute to the pay gap across the European Union.
Spain’s new gender pay gap laws are part of the country’s left-wing coalition government’s efforts to protect women’s rights since coming into power in January, according to Reuters. The government also cracked down on sexual violence laws in March, deeming all non-consensual sex as rape.
“You can’t play around with fundamental rights,” Díaz said.