Whilst Bawtrees LLP can advise you on the changes that your company will need to make in the future, it is also important that you know, whether you are an employee or an employer-where you stand today.
Although the Equal Pay Act was introduced nearly 40 years ago, women still receive an average of 24% less than men in the UK.
With the introduction of the Equality Bill, the Government aims to make sure that this, as well as all other forms of discrimination, are dealt with by 2013.
Currently, if a female employee is being paid less than a male comparative, she can bring an equal pay claim in an Employment Tribunal. There have been mixed reactions to the proposals. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) welcomes the plans, whilst some industry leaders have said that its only function will only create more unnecessary bureaucracy.
Your Rights as an Employee
As an employee, you have a right to be treated no less favourably than a counterpart of the opposite gender. This means that if your work is a) the same b) an equivalent position or c) broadly similar*, then you should receive the same pay. If the matter cannot be resolved in-house, then you can enter a claim in an Employment Tribunal using the Equal Pay Act 1970** and must show your work to be of “equal value” as a comparable. It is up to your employer to then show a legitimate reason for the difference. A claim can be made both whilst you are employed and for a period of time after – any award will depend on your circumstances but can be backdated.
* similarities are found to be of importance by the tribunal – ** The EPA1970 will be replaced by the Equality Bill when it receives the Royal Assent
Your Responsibility as an Employer
As an employer, it is important that you act fairly to avoid any possible claims being made against you. It may be that you have a pay review, making sure that men and women in the same positions or levels receive the same pay. It may also be that you make sure that your salaries are reflective of responsibility, position and experience. Whilst during difficult financial times it is important to keep costs down, a fair salary can ensure that you retain and motivate your workforce, placing your business in a better position for the future.