What is Equal Pay?

If you are working doing similar work or work of equal value (rated by a job evaluation study), you are entitled to get equal pay to that of your counterparts. This is often gender related, for instance, women can sometimes be paid less than men who are doing a similar job. However, this is not always the case.

Equal Pay laws are designed to ensure that men and women are paid equally for the work that they do.

All employees, both male and female, are protected regardless of the size of organisation that they work for or how long they have been employed.

How do you find out what others are paid?

Understandably, many employers prefer, or even actively prevent, their employees from talking to each other about their pay and benefits. Employers are not allowed to prevent employees from making enquiries about pay if it is for the purposes of finding out if they are paid equally to members of the opposite sex.

How much can you claim?

If you think that you have suffered an Equal Pay detriment and you are successful in proving this, you can claim the difference between your pay and that of your comparator as far back as the last six years.

For example

If you have been paid £40,000 for the past five years and your comparator has been £50,000, if you succeed with your claim you would be entitled to damages in the sum £50,000.

£50,000 (comparators pay) – £40,000 (your pay) = £10,000/annum detriment

Then multiply this figure by the number of years worked.

£10,000 x 5 (years worked) = £50,000 (value of claim)

You can also add on any benefits that you haven’t received for instance, bonuses, private healthcare allowance and overtime.

Who can you compare your pay to?

You should try to identify a person or group of people of the opposite sex who is/are paid better than you but who do work that is equal to your work.

It is worth remembering that you could include the person who did your job before you or someone working in a different area of the business.

Equal work can be defined in three ways:

  • Like Work: People doing the same work with little or no difference.
  • Equivalent Work: Work that is not the same but is rated by the employer under a job evaluation scheme as being at the same level or of equal value.
  • Equal Value Work: This is work that is not the same but is of equal value to the employer and carries the same level of responsibility or requires the same effort, skill and decision-making.

How do employers defend themselves against Equal Pay claims?

There are three possibilities for employers when faced with Equal Pay Claims:

They can argue that the work is not actually equal.

They can argue that the employees cannot be compared. For example, they work in different establishments;

They can use what is known as the material factor defence and argue that the difference in pay is due to a genuine reason and not gender related.

What types of pay and benefits should be equal?

All terms and conditions are covered, not just pay, so you should be receiving the same:

  • Basic pay;
  • Overtime;
  • Performance related pay and bonuses;
  • Working hours;
  • Holidays;
  • Other benefits such as private healthcare, gym memberships and car allowances.