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Finns ready to disclose amount they earn to advance gender equality

Helsinki (27.10.2016 – Heikki Jokinen) A majority of Finns would be ready to disclose wages and salaries in order to advance gender equality. In accordance with Finnish legislation individual salaries are not made public.

The figure is from a survey commissioned by the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK.

Of those asked in the survey, 58 per cent said they would be ready to remove confidentiality on salaries for the sake of gender equality. Women (64 per cent) were more ready for this than men (51 per cent).

The Act on Co-operation within Undertakings stipulates that companies have an obligation to furnish annual statistics on pay for every group of employees to the representative concerned. It is possible also to obtain information on separate professions or lines of work, but without individual pay figures, says STTK director Katarina Murto.

“This has lead to a situation where it is very difficult to agree on individual pay at work places and pay rises are typically recorded as overall increases”, Murto says.

STTK feel that lifting the secrecy concerning pay by full disclosure would encourage agreement on salaries at company level and be a step towards gender equality.

In order for this to happen, shop stewards should have the right to obtain salary information and the grounds on which pay is based for the employees they represent.

“However, every employee should still have the right to refuse having the amount they earn disclosed”, Murto adds.

Murto is well aware that reaching this goal will not be easy. “To advance best practices at work places would serve to diminish suspicions and add a feeling of fairness and a sense of community.” Though Murto says that legislation should be considered, she stresses that this is not a reform that should be forced through.

An employee does not necessarily know how his or her total salary is calculated, how his or her own competence is compensated or what part of the salary is a personal extra wage increase in comparison with co-workers or colleagues.

“This does not create an image of equitable pay system or a functioning reward system. An additional way to advance fairer pay and rewards would be to strengthen the competence of managers and directors”, Murto says.