5 ways expat women in Czechia can advocate for equal pay

Today is Equal Pay Day; women in Czechia are currently faced with a 17.9-percent gender pay gap. How can you ensure fair pay in the workplace?

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 06.03.2024 13:32:00 (updated on 06.03.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

Equal Pay Day, observed on March 6 this year, highlights the stark reality that, on average, women need to work an extra 65 days to match the annual earnings of their male counterparts. Eurostat reports a 17.9 percent gender pay gap in the Czech Republic, marking a concerning increase from its lowest point of 15 percent in 2021.

Recent efforts to close this gap were temporary and non-systemic, impacted by factors such as extraordinary bonuses during the Covid era, tariff adjustments for certain professions, notably in education, and an increase in the minimum wage.

However, a deeper analysis of gender pay disparities within comparable job categories reveals that significant differences remain.

Lenka Simerská, chief manager of Equal Pay, a Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs initiative that advocates for fairness in pay practices, sheds light on the unintentional nature of unequal remuneration, stating:

“More and more employers are interested in actively ensuring fair pay for women and men. It allows them to harness and develop the career potential of all employees more effectively.”

Simerská emphasizes the importance of flexibility as a crucial support for women in the Czech workplace, highlighting the significance of working from home and other hybrid models, including part-time employment.

Pay gap by the numbers

  • Czech women surpass men in tertiary education by 6 percent, yet this doesn’t lead to improved remuneration. The wage gap widens to 25 percent among university-educated individuals.
  • Noticeable wage gap variations exist across age groups, with the most notable (at 23.7 percent) found between ages 45 and 49. This is when many women re-enter the workforce post-parental leave, handling increased household responsibilities.
  • The most significant differences remain between the managers’ and legislators’ sectors. Men outnumber women and earn over CZK 16,000 more per month, according to 2022 median income data.
  • Specialists, encompassing medical and teaching roles where women dominate, also witness a substantial gap of CZK 11,940 disadvantaging women.

Among the gains for women in the workplace in recent years, Czechia’s 5 percent insurance premium discount for part-time jobs, introduced in 2023, has created 22,600 new part-time positions, catering to individuals facing constraints on full-time employment, such as parents of young children.

A new EU directive that requires companies to reveal how much they pay women and men for work of equal value – and take action if the gap is over 5 percent – will also help women in Czechia. EU companies have until June 2026 to transpose this into Czech legislation.

From June 2027, medium and large companies in Czechia (with over 150 employees) will also need to submit a report to the Czech Labor Inspectorate on employee remuneration. Employers with 100 to 149 employees have until June 2031 to do this.

We asked Simerská, together with Klára Smolová, the spokesperson for the Organization of Business & Professional Women CR (BPWCR), to share some tips for how women can advocate for equal pay in the Czech workplace.

5 ways to advocate for equal pay in the workplace

Initiate a discussion with your boss: If you suspect unequal pay, start by having a conversation with your supervisor. Avoid pressure and ask questions about the company’s reward system, the basis for employee remuneration, and how you can achieve higher wages. Follow up via email to create a written record that can serve as evidence. If issues persist, involve the HR department or higher management. If evidence of unfair remuneration exists, consider consulting an ombudsman or lawyer.
Seek assistance from state organizations: On the state level, seek help from organizations such as the State Work Inspection (Státní inspekce práce), which can initiate company investigations. You can remain anonymous or reveal your identity. The Ombudsman’s office, known for neutrality and equal treatment, is another avenue for assistance. Additionally, organizations like Rovná odměna offer consulting services.
Utilize resources to assess Your salary: Various resources can help determine if you receive fair compensation. Research published by HR/business consultants, statistics from the Czech Statistical Office, and job offers on platforms like LinkedIn can provide insights. Utilizing the wage calculator on the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs website is another effective method.
Negotiate salary during appropriate times: Optimal times to request a raise in Czechia include annual evaluations, where accomplishments and future goals are discussed. Be prepared to articulate your contributions and successes. Another opportune moment is during a promotion when new responsibilities may warrant a salary re-evaluation.
Research company values before joining: Ensure the organization values equality before accepting a job. Check online references on platforms like LinkedIn or Atmoskop, a service for anonymous feedback. Seek input from people who may have worked in the company, but be mindful of subjectivity. Many companies declare their values, diversity, equality, and inclusion statements on their websites, while others have become Equal-Salary Certified.

The Organization of Business & Professional Women CR (BPWCR) has advocated for change in Czechia's corporate culture for 15 years. BPWCR’s flagship project and the culmination of its year-round campaign is the two-day Equal Pay Day international conference. The 15th edition, themed Opportunity, is scheduled for April 11 and 12 in Prague. The event will showcase three dozen speakers and 80 mentors from the Czech Republic and abroad.

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