Legal Wage Gap or Indirect Discrimination? An analysis of the recently enacted Directive 2019/1158

Dilan Amein Ahmad

Student thesis: Master thesis


Equal pay is considered to be one of the European Union’s fundamental objectives for many reasons. Despite the basic universal understanding of equality between men and women, women are still not receiving the same salary as their male colleagues for the same work. For several years, the presump-tion about wage gap was that women were less educated compared to men, and in general had a lower employment rate in the labour market. However, this explanation is no longer valid due to the in-creasing amount of educated women. With an increasingly educated female workforce, and a signif-icant difference in wages of 12, 8% between men and women, it raises the universal question of whether women are discriminated against in the labour market in terms of equal pay?

This contradiction to the Union’s principles of equal treatment between men and women, is why the EU has developed yet another directive in 2019/1158 regarding the fight for equal pay. According to the new directive, one of the steps to equal pay is a more evenly distributed maternity leave among the parents with whom fathers have been granted two months leave.

This thesis will attempt to clarify when it is appropriate to declare unequal pay in a work environment of equal value. Furthermore, the thesis will investigate and analyse the possible reasons for the sig-nificant wage gap between men and women based on legal analysis of both EU-, Danish- and Swedish legislation, and an economic analysis. This will lastly result in integrated analysis, based on the com-parative law- and economic analysis, where possible proposals will be discussed to find the most efficient solution in order to reduce the wage gap between the genders and assist the work of the Equal Payment Act.

The first part of the thesis will explore EU-, Danish-, and Swedish law, focusing on the respective Equal Pay Act, and maternity acts. In the second part of the thesis, the issue is analysed from an economic perspective, where discrimination theory and human capital theory will be analysed to compare different factors that leads to wage differences. Finally, the third part of the thesis will dis-cuss and conclude whether the Danish law should be revised compared to the current EU legislation.

EducationsMSc in Commercial Law, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages84
SupervisorsNicole Christiansen