Equal Pay (Equality Act)

Site updated on February 17, 2020

Employers should pay men and women on the same basic terms, providing the work they do is broadly similar, or rated as equivalent (under a job evaluation scheme, for example). Equal Pay laws are an extension of Sex Discrimination in a way. You can only use the Equal Pay  when your pay is below that of someone of the opposite sex. You cannot use this law if you are unhappy with your pay when compared to someone of the same sex. This would have to be taken up with your Employer as a grievance.

If there are pay differences, these should not be due to sex – there may be a bonus for length of service, or performance-related pay which explain differentials. In other words your Employer may be able to defend the pay difference by stating that it has nothing to do with the sex of the workers involved. Start by talking to your Employer or your Union Representative. If you need further help Contact our Advice Line.

The Equal Pay law basically requires employers to pay men and women on the same terms where a woman can claim equal pay as a man (or vice versa) in the following situations:

1) The woman is employed on similar work with a man in the same employment; or

2) Where the woman is employed on work that is rated as equivalent with that of a man in the same employment; or

3) Where the work is classed as being of equal value.

The Act defines “similar work” as situations where the woman’s work is of the same or of broadly similar nature to that of a man. The man must be employed by the same company or at the same establishment by an associated employer. The comparable man could also be employed at another establishment where common terms and conditions apply within the same employer.

If employers have jobs that are similar, or rated as equivalent under a job evaluation scheme, any differences in pay between men and women must be justified. If the difference in pay is down to a reason not contacted with gender, then there is a possible defence.

The Act covers all workers. It does not matter how long you have been employed, or whether you work on a part time – even a casual basis.

A complaint can be made to an Employment Tribunal and an award can be made equal to the difference in pay between the claimant and the person she is comparing herself with. Equal pay cases are often complicated and you should seek professional advice before starting a claim.

Equal Pay claims can be difficult to resolve. You have 6 months to take up an equal pay complaint to Tribunal, unlike most other claims which have to made within 3 months. It is possible to take an equal pay complaint to the Civil Courts, where you have 6 years to make your case out.


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