German government seeks to encourage equal pay for women

Germany's governing coalition has agreed on new rules meant to help ensure that men and women receive equal pay for doing equivalent work.

Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary caucus leader of the junior governing Social Democrats, said leaders of Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition agreed Thursday that workers in companies with 200 employees or more will in the future be legally entitled to "information on whether they are being paid unfairly."

Oppermann said companies with 500 or more employees will be obliged to examine and report on pay levels. He said the measures would affect 14 million workers.

He said that, as things stand, women in Germany earn on average 21 percent less than men. He described the agreement as "a big step forward for equal payment of women."