Equal Pay

Most people think about the Equality Act 2010 as setting out the rules regarding discrimination against those with the specified protected characteristics. You may therefore be surprised to learn that the Act also contain provisions which are designed to continue the longstanding battle to achieve equality between men and women in respect of pay and other terms.

How does it do this? The Act implies sex equality clauses into an employee’s contract of employment, which is aimed at ensuring that men and women receive equal pay and other terms of employment if their work in comparison to each other is equal. In addition, a clause is implied into contracts of employment to ensure that pension scheme terms are equal, which is referred to as the sex equality rule.

The Act looks at whether equality is achieved by effectively considering whether the employee is employed to carry out work that is equal to the work that a comparator of the opposite sex does.

Although the right to equal pay is most often heard being discussed or considered in relation to gender, it is important to note that it can also be applied against the other protected characteristics. For example, disabled employees should receive equal pay to able bodied employees if they carry out work that is equal.

When considering whether pay is equal, our team would point out that it is not just the simple salary which needs to be considered. All parts of a person’s remuneration package, benefits and terms of employment should also be considered, including:

  • basic pay
  • bonuses
  • overtime rates
  • performance-related benefits
  • hours of work
  • annual leave entitlement, and
  • sick pay

One of the most difficult issues to consider when assessing whether equality is being achieved, it to assess what amounts to equal work to that of another person, as not all employees will have somebody of the opposite sex, race etc. to compare themselves to, whom is doing the exact same role. The Act therefore states that work is equal to that of another person if it is like work which is: the same, or broadly similar and any differences are of no practical importance in relation to the terms of work; rated as equivalent to another persons work for example the same grade; and of equal value in terms of the demands, such as in terms of the effort, skill and decision-making involved.

If you are still not clear, take advice today.

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