As clear as mud: Assessing the relationship between proposed pay transparency mechanisms and data protection obligations in EU law

Victoria Hooton, Henry Pearce

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Abstract

This article considers the provisions of the EU's proposed pay transparency Directive and comments upon their potential for uncovering and rectifying pay imbalances. We note the necessity of pay transparency measures, for full realisation of the right to equal pay for equal work or work of equal value, given that information access inequality is usually present between employee and employer. Whilst many of the innovations in the proposed provisions are commendable and desirable, we see several obstacles to success in the drafting of the proposed articles. Specifically, regarding the most important transparency provisions—the requirement to report on gender pay gaps, and the right to request and receive comparator pay data—the ease with which concerns over a potential clash with data protection obligations has been dismissed is concerning. In light of the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union on data protection obligations, and the fallibility of data anonymisation techniques, we predict a tension between these two sets of provisions that has not been entirely precluded by the drafting of the new pay transparency directive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628–651
JournalEuropean Labour Law Journal
Volume14
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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