German ruling parties agree steps towards greater pay equality

October 6, 2016 2:52 PM EDT

Parliamentary faction leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) Thomas Oppermann (R) reacts next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a session of the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal Hans

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's ruling coalition parties agreed on Thursday to rework a draft law on greater fairness in wages between the sexes, in a bid to ensure greater transparency by obliging employers to disclose their pay structures.

Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democrats' (SPD) parliamentary group, said that women in Germany on average earned 21 percent less than men and that even if structural disadvantages were discounted the wage discrimination gap was still 7 percent.

"That is going to change," Oppermann said after a meeting of senior officials from the SPD and Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, who rule in coalition.

Merkel's conservatives had criticized a previous version of the draft law put forward by Family Minister Manuela Schwesig, a Social Democrat, as going beyond their coalition agreement.

Under plans drawn up at Thursday's meeting, workers at businesses with 200 employees or more will have a right to claim information on "whether they are unfairly paid", said Oppermann.

Businesses with 500 or more workers would be obliged to provide a report on pay structures. Oppermann said 14 million workers would be affected by the new rules.

(Reporting by Thorsten Severin; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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