A Guide To The Gender Pay Gap


The Law Of… Earning What You’re Worth

The gender pay gap often hits the headlines with stories of discrepancies in pay in the workforce. Whether it is due to broadcasters revealing celebrity salaries or pay gap reporting highlighting the inequality in wages, it is a subject that you can’t get away from in employment.

But what can you do if you think you’ve been a victim of a gender pay gap? As our specialist, London-based Employment Solicitor, Joy Drummond, explains you have legal rights to back up individual and collective challenges to your employer on pay.

What Is The Gender Pay Gap?

The gender pay gap is the difference that male and female employees are paid to do the same job. Whilst the pay gap has got smaller over the last 15 years, on average women are currently earning 18% less than men in full-time and part-time work. 

As well as this, men are 40% more likely than women to be promoted in management roles.

At the current rate the gender pay gap will not close until 2069, which is 99 years after the Equal Pay Act was introduced.

What Can I Do If I’ve Been A Victim Of The Gender Pay Gap?

If you think that you are being paid less than your male colleagues then you should first take advice from a source outside of your workplace. Contacting the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux is a good place to start to find out what your rights are.

It can help to join forces with other colleagues in the same position as you are, if this discrimination is company-wide.   

You should also contact your trade union, or join a trade union if you are not already a member. They are well placed to offer advice specific to your profession and will be able to explain your options.

You can, of course, try speaking with your employer directly after seeking advice and ask for a pay rise. This might be by approaching a manager or a member of HR.

If you are refused a pay rise, or if you have no other way to raise your case of discrimination over gender, then you should seek specialist legal advice to assess your case and recommend possible claims you may have. 

Should I be Considering an Equal Pay Claim?

A difference in pay between a man and a woman doing the same work can be for a variety of reasons. You can only succeed in an equal pay claim where the difference in pay is for a reason involving either direct or indirect sex discrimination. If the pay difference is for a reason completely unrelated to sex you may still have other claims.

Is There A Time Limit To Taking An Equal Pay Claim To An Employment Tribunal?

The general time limit for bringing an equal pay claim to an employment tribunal is 6 months from the end of the employment to which the claim relates.

In some cases it has been found that employers have deliberately concealed the fact that male employees are earning significantly more than women. If this is the case, then the 6-month time limit does not begin to run until you discovered that information.

If you are out of time for an employment tribunal claim, it may be possible to bring an equal pay claim in the civil courts within 6 years of the unequal pay in breach of the equality clause implied into every contract under the Equality Act. 

Will I Receive Back Pay For My Claim?

If you have been successful in your claim you can also recover back pay. This could be for up to 6 years back from when the claim was made.

If your employer concealed the information about pay inequality, so that the claim date is after when you first discovered the relevant concealed information, the back pay awarded could be from very many years ago.

What Are Employers Doing About The Gender Pay Gap?

By April 2018, employers of 250 employees or more must publish information on gender pay within their businesses.

This information will not, by itself, provide all that is needed for an equal pay claim but it is certainly likely to trigger questions that could result in a claim. You can get more information on gender pay gap reporting here.

What About Men?

The Equality Act gives equal pay rights to men as well as to women. If a man is paid less than a woman doing the same work and the reason involves sex discrimination against him he can make an equal pay claim in the same way that a woman can.

If a woman’s pay is increased due to a successful equal pay claim, a man doing comparable work on lower pay than her new salary can himself bring an equal pay claim relying on her as a comparator. 

Our specialist Employment Solicitor Joy Drummond comments:

“The lessons for employers are clear. They should not risk being challenged on equal pay. To avoid reputational and financial damage employers must be transparent about gender pay discrepancies and rectify them as soon and as thoroughly as possible.”

“With the abolition of employment tribunal fees employees can now bring equal pay claims without paying issue or hearing fees. I would urge those affected to get in touch with a specialist as soon as possible.”

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