The law related to Equal Pay ensures that men and women receive the same pay and terms for doing comparable work.
If you are an employee and believe that you have been paid less than someone of the opposite sex for doing "like” work, work rated as equivalent, or work of equal value then you may be able to ensure that you are treated equally.
You can achieve this equality by pursuing an equal pay claim. You may also be able to recover the pay that you should have received.
Equal Pay legislation includes both male and female employees and includes Agency and Casual employees.
There is no requirement to have worked for a specific period of time or to have worked full-time or part time.
Male and female employees are entitled to receive equal pay for equal work. As the complainant you must be able to identify an actual comparator who is engaged in equal work.
Equal work is defined by Section 65 of the Equality Act 2010 as
• Like work
Work is regarded as amounting to like work where it is broadly similar and any differences are not of practical importance in relation to the terms of the person's contract employment. Particular regard is given to how often the differences occur and the nature and extent of those differences.
• Work rated as equivalent
Work is rated as equivalent where a job evaluation study gives the work an equal value in relation to the demands made upon the employee.
• Work of equal value
Although you and the comparator may do different jobs, your job is of equivalent or greater demands
Terms of the Contract
All terms of your Contract of Employment are covered including performance targets, pension entitlements, holiday entitlement, etc.
Material Factor Defence
If your employer pays comparable workers differently they must be able to show that this is due to a material factor and that the material factor is not directly or indirectly discriminatory.
To succeed with this defence your employer must show that the reason presented;
• is not a sham or pretence;
• explains the differential;
• is a significant and relevant difference
• is not the difference in sex in itself
The following factors are regularly used by employers as material factors upon which to base this defence:
• market forces;
• incremental pay scales;
• reasons personal to the comparator such as ability or skills;
• collective agreements;
• differential shift working
• Ring-fencing/pay protection.
If successful with your claim then you can recover Back pay (possibly with interest) of the difference between what you received and what your comparator received. The maximum period for which back pay can be awarded is six years, but it can go back further.
The Employment Tribunal may also declare that you are entitled to receive the same pay as your comparator in the future.
Please note that your compensation may be increased or decreased dependent upon whether you or your employer followed the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures. This uplift can be up to a maximum of 25% of the award.
The time limit for bringing a claim is usually six months from the last date of employment.
Equal pay claims may also be brought in the civil courts within a period of six years.
Complexity of Equal Pay Claims
Equal Pay claims can be complex and difficult to successfully pursue particularly when you have changed jobs or your contract of employment has been varied.
We recommend that you contact us in the first instance to see whether you have valid claim or not.
If you feel that you are being discriminated against then you should raise a grievance with your employer, highlighting the individual earning more than you.
You should also send an Equality Act Questionnaire to your employer requesting certain information such as the amount of pay received by your comparator.
We can help you by preparing your grievance and Equal Pay questionnaire.
We can represent you throughout the Employment Tribunal process.