Equal Pay Act

Notes on the equal pay act

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  • Created by: Jem
  • Created on: 28-04-13 12:36

The Equal Pay Act

In 1970’s Britain: women earned 63% of average male wage.  This Act aimed to balance this out, stating that women due same wage as men where they were doing same work or work of equal value.


Act required a claimant to choose a comparator; a man doing work of equal value to show pay inequality.  The Employer couldn’t choose; this to avoid ‘token man loophole’ i.e. employing man to do same job to prove equal pay.  In case, work doesn’t have to be identical, just of equal value.

E.g. Hayward v Cammel Laird Shipbuilders Ltd: female cook entitled to same pay as carpenters, joiners, thermal insulation engineers; work of same value to employer.

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How Claims are Decided

To determine if work is of equal value an expert from industrial tribunal would carry out job evaluation study (not conclusive).  Areas that are looked at in study:

  • ·         Responsibility
  • ·         Skill
  • ·         Effort
  • ·         Qualifications
  • ·         Length of Training

Possible defence= where there is a material difference between the man and woman not based on gender.  Must be genuine, or will be discriminatory.

Shields v Coomes: Claimed material difference between men and women not genuine.  All men paid extra for work only carried out by a proportion of the men.

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Evaluation: Has the Equal Pay Act Worked?

Statistics from Home Office Equalities website show 10.5% difference between full time men/women’s median earnings.  Overall gap of 20.2% in comparing the pay of all men and women.


Did the Act adequately protect us from unjustifiable discrimination?

Equal Pay Act was introduced almost 40 years ago.  Trevor Phillips, chair of Human Rights and Equality Commission; Act has ‘reached its sell by date’.  ‘It’s time for new legislation, fit for this century, to help sort out this age-old problem’.

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Equality Act and Equal Pay

Part 5, chapter 3 of Equality Act: a woman can claim equality with a man where she is engaged in ‘like work’, work ‘rated as equivalent under a job evaluation study’ or where work is of equal value with a male comparator.  This was achieved by implying a sex equality clause into every contract of employment.  Defence for employer; where difference in pay is not due to sexual discrimination, or can be objectively justified.


Former Labour Government: require employers to reveal pay differences amongst staff in annual reports.  The Government would monitor reports, hold employers to account for apy differences.

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Coalition government: when came into power, said wouldn’t implement pay reports; because, would have imposed large amount of work on employers; too much of a burden in today’s economic climate.

Provision in Equality Act dealing with pay secrecy clauses; clauses made unenforceable, so employees can’t be dismissed for discussing pay differences.


Law protects individuals against unequal pay

Makes it easier for someone to find out what others are being paid.  But problem may be more deep-rooted.

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