Edinburgh Employment Law Blog
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Public sector women at higher risk of losing jobs
Women working in the public sector in countries of the European Union (EU) have been particularly hard-hit by recent cutbacks in jobs, wages and benefits, according to a joint ILO European Commission study titled “Public Sector Adjustment in Europe”. The study warns that these cuts will damage progress made towards gender equality.
The study shows that women in France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have the most to lose due to their heavy dependence (45 - 50%) on the public sector for employment, especially in higher level jobs.
Across Europe, women are better represented in the public sector than in the private sector, due to the provision of higher salaries, as well as to the existence of a higher proportion of skilled jobs which require a better educated workforce.
In the UK, 28% of women in the public sector are considered “better educated,” compared with just 18% in the private sector. It is precisely these high-quality jobs that are being lost through austerity policies implemented in the public sector and which are not easily replaced by similar jobs in the private sector.
Even for low-skilled jobs, public service wages generally have been higher than in the private sector and have played a role in reducing gender pay discrimination, particularly in countries with low or no floors for wages in the private sector.
The progressive replacement of this wage premium for those working in the public sector by a wage penalty, as witnessed in a number of European countries like Hungary, Romania, the Netherlands, affect women in the public sector.
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