French firms face gender pay gap crackdown

French companies will have to install special software to check for unjustified pay gaps between men and women under plans unveiled by the prime minister.

French companies will have three years to erase their gender pay gaps or face possible fines under plans presented by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to unions and employers.

Men are on average paid nine per cent more than women in France, even though the law has required equal pay for the same work for the past 45 years.

Under the plans, companies with more than 50 employees will have to install special software hooked up directly to their payroll systems to monitor unjustified pay gaps.

If a company fails to erase a pay gap detected by the software over three years, inspectors could impose a fine of up to one per cent of the firm's wage bill.

"The software is not a magic wand but it will reveal certain differences in the pay between men and woman," Philippe told reporters on Wednesday.

The government's plans met concern among employers who attended Philippe's presentation.

Union leaders were open to the government's plan but some also had reservations about what criteria would be used for determining whether a pay gap existed.

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