18 September, 2023
Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental principle of that has been at the forefront of the global exchange regarding gender quality within the workplace for decades and the principle that men and women who undertake equal work shall receive equal pay has been enacted by the Equality Act 2010.
With the recent news that UK councils are facing thousands of equal pay claims it is important that organisations get ahead of any potential equal pay issues to protect themselves and mitigate the risks of a claim and we will provide further detail below regarding equal pay claims and the elements that must be considered when a claim is brought under the Equality Act 2010.
There are three categories of equal work:
Any equal pay claim based on the above categories will require a comparator of the opposite sex and this comparator can be either an existing or previous employee, but the comparator must be working in the "same employment".
"Same employment" means that the comparator works at the same place of work, however, the comparator may work at a different place of work if common terms apply at both places or work, or would if both places of work were at the same location. This will therefore encompass any organisations which directly or indirectly control other organisations.
There are however some instances whereby an employer can pay a man more than a woman, or vice versa, for doing equal work, but only if the disparity in pay is due to a material factor which is not directly or indirectly discriminatory. In such a case, an employer can rely on this material factor as a defence to an equal pay claim.
It is important to note that each case is dependant on its facts, and whilst some material factor defences have succeeded, some have failed, and whatever the defence raised, the burden is on the employer to prove that the material factor relied upon is the real reason for the disparity as opposed to it being related to the sex of the individual(s).
For more information contact Andrew Halpin in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 01772 220239. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
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