As long as 45 years ago measures were first introduced in the UK to address the difference in pay between men and women carrying out the same or similar work. It is considered, however that only limited progress has been made in bridging the gender pay gap.
Up until the end of September 2014 the framework for policing gender pay issues was contained in the Equality Act 2010 which draws together the protection from the previous Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.
A scheme of voluntary reporting was put in place for employers to publicise their pay but this appears to have been insufficient in order to promote pay transparency and attempting to achieve equal pay for equal work regardless of gender.
Since October 2014 there has been a new sanction for employers in place that Employment Tribunals can order if employers are found to have breached equal pay legislation. This sanction requires employers to carry out an equal pay audit and to make public the results.
Average pay for men is greater than that for women. The Office for National Statistics revealed that in 2016 the gap was 9.4% for full time employees (the lowest since records began in 1997, when the gender pay gap was 27.5%). The gap for all employees was 18.1%. This is because a higher proportion of women work part-time (41%, compared to only 11% of men), and part-time workers (both men and women) earn less per hour on average than their full-time counterparts.
The General Pay Gap Regulations came into force on 6 April 2017 and apply to large private and voluntary sector employers. This is defined as employers with 250 or more employees on 5th April each year.
Employers must publish their gender pay gap information on their own website and retain it on line for at least 3 years. The information also has to be uploaded to a government website.
If you consider you are being paid less than a colleague of the opposite sex in your work place when you are undertaking equal work you may have a claim under the Equality Act 2010. The work, when being compared, must fall into at least one of the following three categories – “like work”, “work rated as equivalent” and “work of equal value”.
We can advise you as to whether you are likely to have a successful equal pay case. If you are successful the Tribunal or court can make a declaration of your rights and/or require arrears to be paid. A declaration forces your employer to pay the same as your opposite sex counter part. Arrears can be paid for a period up to six years before your claim.