The EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Brussels on Tuesday focused on the future of gender equality policies and providing better employment opportunities to persons with limited capacity for work.
With regard to improving gender equality in EU policy terms, Estonian Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik deemed important that the objectives set so far on the European level should remain in focus.
“While the development towards gender equality in Estonia has been more rapid over the past few years compared to other member states, what remains a concern is that our gender wage gap between women and men is still wider than the average in Europe. That will in turn affect pensions in the future, resulting in a gender pension gap,” Kiik said.
Estonia must continue to focus on increasing women’s participation in the labor market and ensuring their equal economic independence to men, reducing the gender wage, income and pension gaps, promoting equal participation in decision-making processes, combating gendered violence and promoting women’s rights. New challenges stemming from digital and technological development must also be taken into account.
During a discussion of the future of the EU labor law, Kiik said that the implementation of the existing legislation remains a priority and the EU should refrain from over-regulating the area.
“In the near future, the European Union needs to focus on efficient implementation of labor standards. Member states must develop social protection, work safety and tax systems that are compatible with new forms of employment in a way that doesn’t limit the development of innovative business models. I also regard as positive the framework for establishing a national minimum wage, which is also in place in Estonia, in which the minimum wage is determined on the basis of agreement between representatives of employers and trade unions.”