Equal pay for equal work
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Equal pay for equal work is the concept of labour rights that individuals doing the same work should receive the same remuneration. Among international human rights law, the Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Article 4 of the European Social Charter, and the Article 15 of African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights ensure the "equal pay for equal work". The Constitution of the International Labour Organization also proclaims "the principles of equal remuneration for equal value". In America, for example, the law states that "employers may not pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment."
The EEOC's four affirmative defenses allows unequal pay for equal work when the wages are set "pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) ... any other factor other than sex." If an employer can prove that a pay differential exists because of one of these factors, there is no liability.
It is most commonly used in a context of sexual discrimination, as equal pay for women. Equal pay does not simply relate to basic salary but also to the full range of benefits, non salary payments, bonuses and allowances that are paid.
Criticism of equal pay for equal work
Some right-libertarians believe that government actions to correct gender pay disparity serve to interfere with the system of voluntary exchange. They argue the fundamental issue is that the employer is the owner of the job, not the government or the employee. The employer negotiates the job and pays according to performance, not according to job duties. A private business would not want to lose its best performers by compensating them less and can ill afford paying its lower performers higher because the overall productivity will decline.
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, article 7
- European Social Charter: Part II, Article 4, section 4
- African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, Article 15
- ILO Constitution, Preamble
- U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. EEOC Facts About Equal Pay and Compensation Discrimination, accessed on August 26, 2011.
- Michael Tennant. The Justice of Pay Discrimination, LewRockwell.com, accessed on August 26, 2011.