Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation
Article 1 – Purpose
The purpose of this Directive is to ensure the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation. To that end, it contains provisions to implement the principle of equal treatment in relation to:
(a) access to employment, including promotion, and to vocational training;
(b) working conditions, including pay;
(c) occupational social security schemes.
It also contains provisions to ensure that such implementation is made more effective by the establishment of appropriate procedures.
Article 2 – Definitions
1. For the purposes of this Directive, the following definitions shall apply:
(a) “direct discrimination”: where one person is treated less favourably on grounds of sex than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation;
(b) “indirect discrimination”: where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage compared with persons of the other sex, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary;
(c) “harassment”: where unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment;
(d) “sexual harassment”: where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment (…).
Article 3 – Positive action
Member States may maintain or adopt measures within the meaning of Article 141(4) of the Treaty with a view to ensuring full equality in practice between men and women in working life.
Article 4 – Prohibition of discrimination
For the same work or for work to which equal value is attributed, direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of sex with regard to all aspects and conditions of remuneration shall be eliminated. In particular, where a job classification system is used for determining pay, it shall be based on the same criteria for both men and women and so drawn up as to exclude any discrimination on grounds of sex.
Article 5 – Prohibition of discrimination
Without prejudice to Article 4, there shall be no direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of sex in occupational social security schemes, in particular as regards:
(a) the scope of such schemes and the conditions of access to them;
(b) the obligation to contribute and the calculation of contributions;
(c) the calculation of benefits, including supplementary benefits due in respect of a spouse or dependants, and the conditions governing the duration and retention of entitlement to benefits.
Article 14 – Prohibition of discrimination
1. There shall be no direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of sex in the public or private sectors, including public bodies, in relation to:
(a) conditions for access to employment, to self-employment or to occupation, including selection criteria and recruitment conditions, whatever the branch of activity and at all levels of the professional hierarchy, including promotion;
(b) access to all types and to all levels of vocational guidance, vocational training, advanced vocational training and retraining, including practical work experience;
(c) employment and working conditions, including dismissals, as well as pay as provided for in Article 141 of the Treaty;
(d) membership of, and involvement in, an organisation of workers or employers, or any organisation whose members carry on a particular profession, including the benefits provided for by such organisations.
2. Member States may provide, as regards access to employment including the training leading thereto, that a difference of treatment which is based on a characteristic related to sex shall not constitute discrimination where, by reason of the nature of the particular occupational activities concerned or of the context in which they are carried out, such a characteristic constitutes a genuine and determining occupational requirement, provided that its objective is legitimate and the requirement is proportionate.
Article 15 – Return from maternity leave
A woman on maternity leave shall be entitled, after the end of her period of maternity leave, to return to her job or to an equivalent post on terms and conditions which are no less favourable to her and to benefit from any improvement in working conditions to which she would have been entitled during her absence.
Article 17 – Defence of rights
1. Member States shall ensure that, after possible recourse to other competent authorities including where they deem it appropriate conciliation procedures, judicial procedures for the enforcement of obligations under this Directive are available to all persons who consider themselves wronged by failure to apply the principle of equal treatment to them, even after the relationship in which the discrimination is alleged to have occurred has ended.
2. Member States shall ensure that associations, organisations or other legal entities which have, in accordance with the criteria laid down by their national law, a legitimate interest in ensuring that the provisions of this Directive are complied with, may engage, either on behalf or in support of the complainant, with his/her approval, in any judicial and/or administrative procedure provided for the enforcement of obligations under this Directive. (…).
Article 18 – Compensation or reparation
1. Member States shall introduce into their national legal systems such measures as are necessary to ensure real and effective compensation or reparation as the Member States so determine for the loss and damage sustained by a person injured as a result of discrimination on grounds of sex, in a way which is dissuasive and proportionate to the damage suffered. Such compensation or reparation may not be restricted by the fixing of a prior upper limit, except in cases where the employer can prove that the only damage suffered by an applicant as a result of discrimination within the meaning of this Directive is the refusal to take his/her job application into consideration.
Article 20 – Equality bodies
1. Member States shall designate and make the necessary arrangements for a body or bodies for the promotion, analysis, monitoring and support of equal treatment of all persons without discrimination on grounds of sex. These bodies may form part of agencies with responsibility at national level for the defence of human rights or the safeguard of individuals’ rights.
2. Member States shall ensure that the competences of these bodies include:
(a) without prejudice to the right of victims and of associations, organisations or other legal entities referred to in Article 17(2), providing independent assistance to victims of discrimination in pursuing their complaints about discrimination;
(b) conducting independent surveys concerning discrimination;
(c) publishing independent reports and making recommendations on any issue relating to such discrimination;
(d) at the appropriate level exchanging available information with corresponding European bodies such as any future European Institute for Gender Equality.
Article 26 – Prevention of discrimination
Member States shall encourage, in accordance with national law, collective agreements or practice, employers and those responsible for access to vocational training to take effective measures to prevent all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex, in particular harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace, in access to employment, vocational training and promotion.
Article 29 – Gender mainstreaming
Member States shall actively take into account the objective of equality between men and women when formulating and implementing laws, regulations, administrative provisions, policies and activities in the areas referred to in this Directive.
The objective of Directive 2006/54/EC is to consolidate several directives on gender equality by simplifying, modernising and improving EU legislation in the area of equal treatment for men and women in employment.
Equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of EU law which applies to all aspects of life in society, including to the world of work.
This Directive prohibits direct or indirect discrimination between men and women concerning the conditions of:
- recruitment, access to employment and self-employment;
- vocational training and promotion;
- membership of workers’ or employers’ organisations.
In addition, Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex on matters of pay for the same work or work of equal value. This principle also applies to job classification systems used for determining pay.
EU countries must encourage employers and vocational trainers to act against discrimination (both direct and indirect) on grounds of sex, and particularly against harassment and sexual harassment.
Women and men are treated equally under occupational social security schemes, particularly concerning:
- the scope and conditions of access to the schemes;
- the contributions;
- the calculation of benefits, including supplementary benefits, and the conditions governing the duration and retention of entitlement.
This principle applies to the whole working population, including:
- self-employed workers, however for this category EU countries may provide for different treatment, in particular concerning the age of retirement;
- workers whose activity is interrupted by illness, maternity, accident or involuntary unemployment;
- persons seeking employment, retired and disabled workers, and those claiming under them.
At the end of maternal, paternal or adoption leave, employees have the right to:
- return to their jobs or to equivalent posts on conditions which are no less favourable to them;
- benefit from any improvement in working conditions to which they would have been entitled during their absence.
EU countries must put in place remedies for employees who have been victims of discrimination, such as conciliation and judicial procedures. In addition, they shall take the necessary measures to protect employees and their representatives against adverse treatment as a reaction to a complaint within the company or to any legal proceedings. Lastly, they shall establish penalties and reparation or compensation possibilities in relation to the damage sustained.
EU countries appoint bodies whose role it is to promote, analyse and monitor equal treatment, to ensure that the legislation is followed and also to provide independent support to victims of discrimination.