The original Equal Pay Act 1970 was introduced following the famous strike of 850 women working at the Dagenham Ford Factory in 1968, after they found out they were being paid 15 per cent less than men for the same work. This was not uncommon and many employers at this time had a separate rate of pay for women. The new law was not fully implemented until 1975 and is now incorporated into the Equality Act 2010, so that men and women must receive equal pay for equal work in comparable jobs.
While it is tempting to believe things have moved on, the UK retains one of the worst average gender pay gaps in Europe at 15.4% Gender pay gap in the UK – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk) and it is ultimately in everyone’s’ interest to address this.
Our employment team can advise on potential options where you have concerns about your pay and we have set out below some initial points:
There are several things to consider before making a claim for equal pay:
To bring an equal pay claim you must be (or have been) “employed” under either:
You must be able to compare your pay and/or contractual terms and conditions against someone else. The comparator must:
A comparator can be multiple people, as well as ex-members of staff.
You must be able to show that the comparator performs ‘equal work’ to you. This can be difficult, but in summary means:
There are strict and complicated time limits for making an equal pay claim at the employment tribunal and calculating the correct date is vital.
Typically a claim at the employment tribunal must be made within 6 months after the relevant qualifying date and this date is dependent on the type of claim you are bringing, so it is important that you receive legal advice before making a claim.
Claims for equal pay can also be brought in the civil courts within a period of six years, however specialist advice should be sought before taking this step.
If successful, the tribunal will award compensation for arrears of pay up to 6 years before the date of the claim.
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.
We would recommend that the first step to making your claim is to speak to our employment law solicitors. Equal pay claims can be difficult and we can offer our support throughout the process. Contact our specialist employment team below or find out more about our employment services for individuals here.