The difference between women's and men's pay has fallen by 0.2 percent in the European Union to 16 percent. The decrease is "extremely slow", the European Commission reports on Monday. In total, the pay gap decreased by only 1 percent in seven years.

It is about the percentage that women earn less per hour gross per hour. According to the new figures in the EU, women work 'free' for two months a year, or receive only 84 cents per euro that men receive.

At 15.2 percent, the pay gap in the Netherlands is slightly lower than the EU average. The United Kingdom and Germany, among others, are doing worse, with 20.8 and 21 percent respectively.

Estonia dangles with a pay gap of 25.6 percent at the bottom, while Romania, Italy and Luxembourg with 3.5 percent, 5 and 5 percent successively score the best in equal pay.

Statements for the pay gap

The European Commission mentions a number of statements in the report that are often mentioned when it comes to the pay gap, but that are incorrect.

For example, women would be over-represented in low-paid sectors, which would explain the difference. That is not the case: women appear to receive lower wages in all sectors than men with the same occupation.

The fact that women often work part-time is not a correct explanation either. "Working fewer hours per week means that you have to get paid less per month, not a lower hourly wage," the organization said. In addition, it is not the case that men are better educated and therefore earn more. Nearly 60 percent of graduates are women.

"Punishment" for maternity leave

There are a number of factors that explain the unequal pay, according to the report. For example, women take on more unpaid tasks, such as taking care of children or performing household chores.

Women, more often than men, insert a period in which they do not work in order to care for parents or others. Furthermore, discrimination is a cause. For example, women are 'punished' for maternity leave, after a demotion after their return to the workplace. Women are also less easily in top positions.