The aim of the Gender Equality Act is to ensure that men and women are treated equally, and thereby ensure everybody gets equal opportunities to participate in professional and work life. Statistics and different studies show that despite the current labour law requirements regarding equal treatment, injustice and inequality are common in professional life and society, e.g. the gender pay gap, strong horizontal gender segregation (one professional field is dominated by men, another by women), and vertical gender segregation (women are the majority at a professional field, but have lower level jobs), etc.

 The Study

The aim of the study was to get an overview of how the private, public and non-profit sectors implement the Gender Equality Act in their human resources practices. Also, one of the goals was to develop indicators of human resources practices which assess the implementation of Gender Equality Act in human resources practices and could be used for regular monitoring of the subject (repeat surveys with the same questionnaire).

The result of the study is a final report which reflects the methods used and the results, and also includes indicators which help assess the implementation of the Gender Equality Act in human resources practices.

 The Results

The general conclusion of the study is that the awareness of the Gender Equality Act among Estonian employers is low. Only 4% of the employers claimed that they are well aware of this law. Most of the respondents (46%) have heard about the Gender Equality Act, but they do not know the contents of the law.

The study also shows that:

  • The employers are more aware of the Gender Equality Act provisions which are also regulated by the Employment Contracts Act provisions.
  • The awareness of the employers of legislation prohibiting gender discrimination in recruitment process is low and discrimination in recruitment on the basis of gender is widespread.
  • The principle ‘equal pay for equal work’ has not been unambiguously embraced by employers.
  • The legislation awareness and clarity of employers’ obligation to promote gender equality at workplace is low.
  • The employers do not see any purpose in promoting gender equality.
  • The awareness of employers of their responsibility in solving the situation where gender-based harassment or sexual harassment has occurred in the workplace is relatively good.

To conclude, although the Gender Equality Act is one of the most important measures of the state to ensure gender equality in the labour market, a considerable share of employers has very limited knowledge of their obligations as stipulated in this Act. This threatens the legal certainty of employees and refers to the possibility that parties to the employment relationship may not follow the law. In order to ensure higher legal certainty and thereby legal protection it is important to raise employers’ awareness of practices which discriminate men and women or promote equal treatment and opportunities. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the legal awareness of the Gender Equality Act of both parties to the employment relationship. In addition, it is also necessary to increase the legal clarity of the Act and to better explain the reasoning behind the norms of gender equality in society.


See also

Gender Equality Act

Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner