Equal treatment for men and women


Equal rights and equal treatment of men and women in the work place are an important part of the rights guaranteed by the EEA Agreement.


The EEA States are required to ensure and maintain the application of the principle that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work.

Directive 2006/54/EC on equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation contains the general prohibition against discrimination on grounds of sex in relation to:

  • equal pay
  • equal treatment as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion and working conditions
  • occupational social security schemes.

The Directive also contains definitions of different concepts such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment. Furthermore, it contains provisions relating to remedies and penalties, the burden of proof, the promotion of equal treatment through equality bodies, gender mainstreaming, social dialogue and dialogue with NGOs.

Other directives protect the equal treatment of men and women in the work place, such as Directive 2010/41/EU applicable to men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity, Directive 79/7/EEC applicable to social security matters and Directive 2004/113/EC which covers access to private/public goods and services.

Other provisions governing the special protection of women in order to achieve equality of opportunity can be found in the field of labour law, i.e. provisions related to the organization of working time, and in the field of health and safety at work, i.e. related to pregnant women or workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.

Relevant links

Other EEA Institutions

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