The original equal pay provisions were introduced in 1970 at a time where it was not uncommon for an employer to pay men and women different amounts for performing the same work. Despite significant progress in recent decades, a significant gender pay gap persists and all employers have a key role in bridging the gap.
The Equality Act 2010 provides that every employee has the right to equal pay for ‘equal’ work in the same employment. Employers with over 250 employees are also required to publish their gender pay gap figures annually through an on-line portal: Report your gender pay gap data – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Equal pay law applies to all pay during employment, including pension, working hours, overtime and bonuses.
Employees, workers, apprentices, agency workers, temporary employees are all covered. It also applies to self-employed people who are hired to do work personally.
Men and women must be paid equally for ‘equal work’. A claimant must compare their pay and contractual terms and conditions against someone else. The comparator must:
A comparator can be multiple people, as well as ex-members of staff.
‘Equal work’ encompasses:
To successfully defend an equal pay claim, an employer needs to show that:
For the most part, claims for equal pay at the employment tribunal must be brought within 6 months of the end of the relevant employment.
Equal pay is a complex area to navigate, and can involve significant compensation awards. Our employment law experts can provide assistance with grievances relating to equal pay and/or throughout the tribunal process.
By law, employers must not pay an employee less, or give them less favourable terms and conditions, because of their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or another ‘protected characteristic’. Find more about discrimination here.
Employers should follow best practice to avoid equal pay issues by:
The workplace trade union or employee representatives should be consulted when carrying out an equal pay audit and deciding how to resolve any unequal pay issues.
Employers with more than 250 employees are required to publish on their website payroll data taken on the ‘snapshot’ date each year, and are encouraged to produce supporting notes and an action plan to combat gaps in their staff structure and payroll. Figures also have to be reported to the government via their website here.
For private organisations the ‘snapshot’ date is 05 April, and figures must be published before 04 April of the following year. For public authority employers, the ‘snapshot’ date is 31 March, and figures must be published before 30 March the following year.
Should employers fail to report, the Equality and Human Rights Commission can take enforcement action. Therefore, it is important to make timely reports as non-compliance can affect an employer’s reputation and may also support an equal pay claim made by an employee.
Our employment law solicitors can offer support to employers on their annual gender pay gap reporting, provide assistance to employers wishing to implement an equal pay policy and assist with responding to equal pay claims or grievances.
Contact a member of our specialist team below or find out more information on how we can assist you and your business here.