Equal Pay in the Spotlight

The BBC has recently been cleared of unlawful acts of pay discrimination against women, following an investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. With equal pay coming back under the spotlight, what are some of the key things employers need to know?

  1. How does the law on equal pay work?

In simple terms, the law requires men and women to be given equal pay and contractual terms for equal work (that is ‘like work’, work rated as ‘equivalent’ or work of equal value), unless the employer can show that there is a material reason for the difference which does not discriminate on the basis of sex.

Equal pay covers things such as:

  • Basic pay
  • Overtime rates and allowances
  • Performance related pay
  • Sick pay

Employees can compare such terms in the contract of employment with the equivalent terms in a comparator’s contract.  A comparator is an employee of the opposite sex working for the same employer.

Whilst a lot of equal pay cases have concerned claims made by women, the law provides the same protection to men.

  • What can an employee get if they succeed in an equal pay claim?

Where an employee succeeds in an equal pay claim, a sex equality clause will be implied into the employee’s contract of employment. The effect of this is that the less favourable term(s) of their contract are replaced by the equivalent more favourable term(s) of the comparator.

The tribunal or court can also order the employer to pay arrears of pay up to six years, or damages in the case of a non-pay contractual term.

  • What should an employer do if an employee complains about equal pay?

Employers should take such complaints seriously and deal with them promptly and appropriately. This will usually mean addressing the complaint via the employer’s grievance procedure which will involve:

  • Formally meeting with the employee to hear their grievance
  • Investigating the matter
  • Giving the employee a written outcome and a right of appeal

If an employee in your organisation raises a complaint about equal pay, you should contact Kingfisher Professional Services ltd for advice on the facts of your case.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact us as we are happy to help.


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