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Despite the good municipal childcare in Vienna, people working late shifts or during the night do not have many options

Equal Pay Day in Austria: women will work ‘for free’ until the end of the year

Equal Pay Day in Austria: women will work ‘for free’ until the end of the year

The occasion marks the gender wage gap. On this day in 2021, men have already earned as much money as women will for the entire year

Today is Equal Pay Day in Austria, an occasion shining a light on the wage gap between men in women in the country. On average, men have already earned as much as women will over the whole year, meaning that theoretically, women will be working for free for the next 68 days.

Vienna is a notable exception here, as the federal state with the best childcare options. This has pushed their Equal Pay Day to 15 November.

Symbolic representation of the wage gap

Equal Pay Day symbolises the divide that exists between men and women in the workplace and the fact that equal rights do not necessarily mean equal opportunities. Currently, the average wage gap between men and women sits at 18.5%, while in practical terms this means Austrian women earn around 10,000 euros less.

In Vienna, the gap is smaller – 13%, or around 7, 000 euros. This is why their Equal Pay Day is later in the year.

While the fact that women will be working for free for the next 68 days does sound alarming, the good news is that the gap is closing, albeit slowly. Last year, Equal Pay Day in Austria fell on 22 October, and on 11 October in Vienna.

The crux issue - childcare

One of the reasons for the pronounced regional differences is the wider availability of childcare options in the capital, compared to smaller communities. This makes childcare one of the main economic drawbacks to career growth for women.

Furthermore, it also puts government childcare assistance at the forefront of efforts to close the gap. Yet, according to officials, despite greater options in Vienna compared to smaller communities, they are still not enough.

Vienna City Councillor Bernadette Arnoldner, spoke to the ORF an Austrian Broadcasting agency, saying that the work-family balance is crucial for closing the pay gap. Especially, when considering all the irregular work options, scheduling for both can turn into a mammoth task.

She gave an example with shift work, late shifts and night shifts generally falling outside of kindergartens work hours, causing massive organisational difficulties for parents. She pointed to Hamburg, as a city where municipal kindergartens do offer services outside of regular 9-to-5 jobs.

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