Pay differences and pay discrimination

In the photo, a woman working in a cafe reads her pay slip in confusion.

The pay gap between women and men is a significant and long-term problem for gender equality. In 2017, the gender gap in earnings across the labour market was about 16 per cent. Women's earnings averaged 83.9% of men's earnings. (Source: Statistics Finland, Index of Wage and Salary Earnings 2017.) However, the difference in earnings between the genders varies by labour market sector (state, municipalities and the private sector), and it also varies by occupation.  

Average pay differences in the labour market or in any professional field are not the same as the pay discrimination referred to in the Equality Act. 

The Equality Act prohibits gender-based pay discrimination 

The Equality Act prohibits gender-based discrimination regarding pay. (Section 8, subsection 1, paragraph 1 and 2 of the Equality Act.) In general the prohibitions of the Equality Act concern the differences in pay between employees of the same employer. 

  • Applying pay terms in a way that places an employee or employees in a less favourable position because of their gender than one or several other employees doing the same or same level of work for the same employer constitutes discrimination, unless there is an acceptable reason for this.
  • It may also be a case of discrimination if a person is placed at a disadvantage regarding pay because of pregnancy, childbirth or another reason related to their gender. Employees may also not be discriminated against because of their gender identity or gender expression.

On these pages you can read when the prohibitions on pay discrimination in the Equality Act are applied and find explanations of key concepts related to the prohibition of pay discrimination.