Equal Pay in Denmark: A Commercial Law Analysis of the Equal Pay Legislation in Denmark with a Labour Economics Perpective

Caroline Bilenberg Sønderup

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Gender pay gap has always been an issue in the labour market. This Master thesis examine the problem of the gender pay gap in the Danish labour market. The thesis is divided into two main parts: a legal part and an economical part. Both parts examine the causes of gender pay gap but by using different methods.
The legal analysis uses a case analysis to deduce how the pay concept should be interpreted, based on EU- and labour law. The judgments originate primarily from the European Court of Justice. The legal analysis examines how the courts have interpreted the legislation in the field of gender pay, especially focusing on the term 'same work or work of equal value'. It’s deduced from the judgments that the concept of wage extends widely, while the assessment of the ‘same work or work of equal value’ must be based on an overall assessment of the nature of the work, the education requirements and the working conditions. The courts protect women in relation to parttime employment and maternity leave, but there are some reservations. Member States have the opportunity to introduce positive measures as long as they comply with the principle of proportionality.
The economical part is based on selected theories, including human capital theory, efficiency theory and the theory of the glass ceiling. In addition, results from current wage statistics are derived to investigate the development of equal pay in the last decade. Wage statistics are used from both Eurostat and Danmarks Statistik. According to the labour economics analysis, there are some social standards in the Danish culture that have a major influence on the gender pay gap. The distinction is made between the justified and unjustified factors that can explain the difference in gender pay. Statistics show that predominantly the justified factors are the cause of the gender pay gap. Among the justified factors are the choice of education, work function and choice of public or private sector. An unjustified factor is discrimination.
The thesis ends with an incorporated part which combines the legal concepts with the results from the economic analysis. In conclusion it is found that the primary reason for gender pay gap is due to the gender segregated labour market in Denmark, which results from women prioritising family and being the main caregiver, which impacts their abilities to choose the highest paid positions.

EducationsMSc in Commercial Law, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2018
Number of pages97