The gender pay gap in Italy: a history of the implementation of EU law

PhD Project

This research project focuses on the implementation of the EU directives on equal pay in Italy. Although Italy implemented all of the EU directives, the gender pay gap is still prevalent, especially in the private sector. This is particularly surprising given that Italy introduced the principle of equal pay prior to the enactment of the European legislation. Article 37 of the 1948 Constitution established the right to equal pay for equal work between women and men.

While the current literature focuses mainly on the economic aspects of the gender pay gap, this research aims to understand the role played by the legal provisions and the historical context in Italy as an EU member state. It explores the socio-cultural and legal background behind the drafting process of Article 37 in order to ascertain the political actors and the motivation behind the early introduction of the equal pay legislation, especially compared to the other member states. The project will then analyse the first case laws applying the principle and the subsequent laws in the 1950s and 1960s until the implementation of the first EEC directive (Equal Pay Directive 75/117/EEC). 

The main goal is to understand how the implementation of the first European directives functioned in a national context that already had comprehensive legislation treating the matter of equal pay. Particular attention will be paid to the national laws directly involved in the implementation, such as family law and tax law provisions. The research literature shows that both these areas have a significant impact on the pay gap, often hindering the full implementation of European directives. 

By providing an overview of the equal pay legislation in Italy from the 1948 Constitution to the latest EU directives, this research identifies the legal and historical reasons behind the persistence of the gender pay gap in Italy.

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