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Equality of sexes poorly enforced at workplaces

Finland’s Ombudsman for Equality lacks resources to enforce the gender equality plan, which companies are by law obliged to make and follow at workplaces. In such a situation, pay differences between men and women can continue unchecked.

Grafiikka.
In Finland, men and women are not equal at the workplace. Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Finnish law requires that all companies with more than 30 employees make a gender equality plan to ensure fair treatment of sexes at workplaces.

Although companies are legally obliged to make the plan, many fail to do so without being caught.

Finland's Ombudsman for Equality lacks personnel resources to enforce the law, so only isolated discrimination cases get investigated.

For several years, the Ombudsman has requested more resources – without result.

Token legislation?

“It makes you think is this just token legislation, if it’s thought that the mere existence of a law can make the situation change,” Ombudsman for Equality Pirkko Mäkinen muses.

Mäkinen says that additional resources will soon be even more needed, as a work group appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has called for the implementation of more detailed salary surveys as part of the gender equality plan.  

If the proposal passes and gender equality legislation is amended, more personnel and resources will be required to monitor that the law is observed.

“I’ve been looking over at Sweden with longing. There, the monitoring authority has been given plenty of resources. The equality plans of the workplaces of nearly one million employees have been inspected, and this has had a real impact, for example, on removing pay differences between women and men,” the ombudsman notes.

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