In England and Wales it may be unlawful, in line with the tests in the Equality Act, not to pay men and women equally for the same job if that is only based on gender. If you are think you are not being paid equally by your employer because of your gender, you may have a claim for equal pay.
More Information on Equal Pay Claims
The Equal Pay Act 1970 was a key piece of social legislation, and has been of considerable value for many women in securing equality in the workplace. Now all of the equal pay legislation is included in The Equality Act 2010. The newer legislation altered the law slightly but the basic provisions remain the same as they have been for several decades.
Equal pay has been an important area for development of employment law over recent years as many businesses and public authorities have grappled with the need to ensure equality for men and women. This has particularly been the case in local government and the NHS, as traditionally male roles were found to have significantly higher rates of pay (and bonus).
Many thousands of Employment Tribunal claims have been pursued, and across the public sector equality based pay systems have been introduced, for example under Agenda For Change.
There does appear to be a commitment within the UK Government to address this issue, with the focus now turning to the private sector. The Government Gender Pay Gap Audit has revealed the extent of ongoing pay and equality issues, particularly within bigger businesses.
What is Equal Pay?
The law says that men and women must be given equal treatment by their employer in their terms and conditions of employment if they are employed to:
- Do ‘like work’. That means work that is the same or mostly the same
- Complete work that has been rated as the same during a job evaluation study
- Do work that is of equal value relating to effort, skill or decision making
Therefore if your employer is paying men and women differently for the same job or one which has been shown to be equal, you could bring an equal pay claim against your employer.
How Do I Know If I'm Getting Equal Pay?
This is often difficult for you to establish but there are a few ways to find out if you’re getting equal pay. If you work for a large organisation with more than 250 employees, they are required by law to submit their data on gender pay difference each year. You can search for them on gov.uk and compare them to other organisations in your sector here.
Your other option is to speak to someone who does an equivalent job to yours at work and compare your terms and conditions of employment. This should include any employee benefits and their pay so you can see if there are any differences.
Differences can include:
- Your basic pay
- Your overtime rate
- Your holiday entitlement
- Your hours of work
- Any performance related pay
- Your pension scheme access
- Any terms that are non-monetary
Your employer may argue that the difference in pay or benefits is not related to gender but they will have to show their reasons.
You might worry that your employer won’t like you talking to each other about your pay rates, but the Equality Act says that it’s unlawful to prevent employees from discussing their pay to see if there are differences. Your employer probably won’t want you to disclose your rates outside of your workplace.
How to Make an Equal Pay Claim
You should start by asking your employer to provide you with information that will help you work out if an equal pay issue exists. If there is a difference in pay, you should also ask your employer to explain the reasons for the pay differences.
If you are not satisfied with their response, you can raise a grievance formally.
Again, if you are not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance, you could make a claim before an Employment Tribunal. You will need to complete the Early Conciliation process through ACAS before going to Tribunal.
The awards of compensation for equal pay can be substantial. They often reflect pay differences going back up to six years from the date when you start your Tribunal claim.
You can make an equal pay claim against your employer at any time while you are employed or for up to six months after your termination of employment. This six month period also applies if there has been a substantial change in your job.
Get Legal Advice
Our Employment Law Solicitors offer free initial legal advice on equal pay cases in both the public and private sectors. Because you have the ability to claim back equal pay for up to six years previously, it’s important to start your claim as soon as pay inequality is identified.
We’ll consider all the options for you to fund your claim, so please ask us if we can deal with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis.
For free initial legal advice call our Employment Solicitors
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