The remunerations for managers at a French restaurant chain, where many of the employees are women, are far lower than those paid to their male colleagues.
They are also lower than what managers at other high-profile French restaurants earn, according to a report by the National Commission for Gender Equality (CfENA).
The French National Council of State, which oversees the French economy, has asked the Cécile Pons and Michel Roussel, the co-owners of the chain, to explain the pay disparity.
A spokesperson for the CNCS told Al Jazeera: “The CNC has been asking the parties for answers for some time.
We will be asking the Commission for a formal investigation.”
Roussels co-owns the chain with his wife, Cecile.
He said: “We will explain everything to the public in the same way as we explain everything for our customers.”
But the company said the pay differences between its male and female employees were based on a “technical error”.
The French media reported that the pay gap at Pons’ restaurant chain has risen from $15,800 to $26,200 since 2015.
The restaurant chain’s head of public relations told the French media that it was a “clerical error”.
He added that the company had “never received the salary data” from the CFO of Pons, which is in charge of the company’s finances.
In response, a spokesperson for Pons said: “[It] was never our intention to make such a technical error.
We had the opportunity to verify the salary figures and it is correct.”
The spokesperson added that Pons had been made aware of the pay discrepancy and would correct the matter.
The French government has been criticised for the gender pay gap in France and elsewhere.
In 2016, the French government set a target to end the gender gap in the country’s workforce by 2020.
The target is set to be reached by 2022.
But the gender-wage gap has widened significantly over the past decade, according the OECD, which compiled the data.
It said that since 2005, the gender wage gap has increased from 9.7 per cent to 15.9 per cent.
According to the OECD’s 2017 report, France had the sixth-highest gender pay disparity among OECD member states.
According a recent study by the French Institute of Economic Research, the wage gap is now 20 per cent higher in France than in the United States.
“This has been the largest gender pay discrepancy in the world, with the US now the only other country with a gender pay difference exceeding 20 per of one per cent,” the study’s author, Jean-Pierre Vermeulen, told the BBC.
The report’s findings are based on data from the latest available data from 2017.
In 2018, France’s labour force was estimated at 17.2 million people.
This represents a 19.9% increase from 2017 and a 7.5% increase over the previous year.
The Cécillère de la République, the labour union that represents the restaurants and the public sector, told Al-Jazeera that the wage disparity at Pens and Roussells restaurants is “absolutely unacceptable” and that the employers should be held accountable for the pay difference.
The union added that there are also a number of other problems with the pay system, including a lack of transparency, the unequal application of the national minimum wage and unequal compensation of employees.
The National Commission on Gender Equality is investigating the matter and said it will “pursue any appropriate action to bring the parties to account”.
In a statement, the Cècile Sérard, the director of the French Confederation of Restaurant and Hotel Management Associations, told AFP news agency: “As with all cases, the salaries of restaurant managers should reflect the market situation and the circumstances in which they operate, and not to be used as a reflection of discrimination.”
The Cèbres-Bastogne-Liege restaurant chain was not immediately available for comment.
The Restaurant Association of France said it would not comment on “any internal matters”.