Equal Pay

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Equal Pay

The 2010 Equality Act[1] took effect from 1 October meaning workers have new rights that will help stamp out pay discrimination. Measures include stopping employers from using pay secrecy or 'gagging' clauses to hide unfair differences between what men and women are paid.

2010 Equality Act takes effect from 1st October

Around 90 per cent of the new act has now come into force, making the law simpler by bringing together nine pieces of legislation under a single banner. Key law changes introduced on 1 October include:

  • Making pay secrecy 'gagging' clauses unenforceable - protecting employees who discuss their pay with each other for the purposes of uncovering discrimination;

  • extra protection for disabled people - limiting the circumstances in which employers can question job applicants questions about disability or health prior to offering them a job;

  • new powers for employment tribunals - they can now make recommendations that will affect an employer’s whole workforce (not just particular employees who sue their employer); and

  • new responsibilities for employers to protect their staff from harassment by customers, where possible.

Men and women doing equal work and work rated as of equal value are entitled to equal pay. Employers may wish to carry out a pay audit to ensure that men and women are getting equal pay according to the Equality Act 2010

Employers must give men and women equal treatment in the terms and conditions of their employment contract if they are employed on:

  • 'Like work’ – work that is the same or broadly similar;

  • work rated as equivalent under a job evaluation study; and

  • work found to be of equal value.

A woman is employed on 'like work' with a man if her work is of the same or a broadly similar nature. It is for the employer to show that there is a genuine reason for any difference in pay,[2] which is not based on the sex of an individual.

Employees are also entitled to know how their pay is made up. For example, if there is a bonus system, everyone should know how to earn bonuses and how they are calculated.

If you cannot resolve the problem informally, you may complain to an employment tribunal[3]under the Equality Act 2010 while still working in the job or up to six months after leaving the employment to which your claim relates.

Normally, you may claim arrears of remuneration (which includes sick pay, holiday pay, bonuses, overtime etc as well as 'pay') for a period of up to six years (five years in Scotland) before the date of your tribunal application.

Tribute to equal pay women strikers

A new British film released as the act took effect is based on the story of women workers at the Ford assembly plant in Dagenham, East London. In 1968,[4] women at the plant went on strike to demand equal pay. Their actions led to the creation of the 1970 Equal Pay Act.[5]

The Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality, Theresa May, met four of the original strikers recently.[6] She said: "Thanks to pioneers like the women who feature in 'Made in Dagenham', the workplace is much fairer than it was in 1968. But there is still plenty of room for improvement.

"From today the gagging clauses that stop people discussing their pay with their colleagues will be unenforceable, allowing women - and men - to find out if they're being paid unfairly."

Simplifying equality law

The nine pieces of legislation being brought together under the Equality Act are:

  • Equal Pay Act (1970);

  • Sex Discrimination Act (1975);

  • Race Relations Act (1976);

  • Disability Discrimination Act (1995);

  • Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations (2003);

  • Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2003);

  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (2006);

  • Equality Act (2006); and

  • Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2007).

References:
[1] Participation E. Equality Act 2010 [Internet]. [cited 2017 Feb 23]. Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents
[2] Equal pay - advice and guidance | Acas [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1811
[3] Employment Tribunal - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 Feb 23]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/employment-tribunal
[4] Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968. In: Wikipedia [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ford_sewing_machinists_strike_of_1968&oldid=762547959
[5] Participation E. Equal Pay Act 1970 (repealed) [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1970/41
[6] Goodley S. Dagenham sewing machinists recall strike that changed women’s lives. The Guardian [Internet]. 2013 Jun 6 [cited 2017 Mar 14]; Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jun/06/dagenham-sewing-machinists-strike

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