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Employment law guide

Equal Pay

The Equality Act 2010 gives a right to equal pay for men and women doing equal work. This covers people in the same employment and includes equality in pay and other contractual terms.

A woman doing equal work with a man in the same employment is entitled to equality in pay and other contractual terms, unless the employer can show that there is a material reason for the difference which does not discriminate on the basis of her sex.

Where there is equal work, the Act implies a sex equality clause automatically into the woman’s contract of employment, modifying it where necessary to ensure her pay and all other contractual terms are no less favourable than the man’s.

Where a woman doing equal work shows that she is receiving less pay or other less favourable terms in her contract, or identifies a contract term from which her comparator (a comparator is “a man or men in the same employment”) benefits and she does not (for example he is entitled to a company car and she is not), the employer will have to show why this is. If the employer is unable to show that the difference is due to a material factor which has nothing to do with her sex, then the equality clause takes effect.

These equal pay provisions apply to all contractual terms including wages and salaries, non-discretionary bonuses, holiday pay, sick pay, overtime, shift payments, and occupational pension benefits, and to non-monetary terms such as leave entitlements or access to sports and social benefits.

Other sex discrimination provisions apply to non-contractual pay and benefits such as purely discretionary bonuses, promotions, transfers and training and offers of employment or appointments to office.

Where an equality clause cannot operate, if the woman cannot identify an actual male comparator for an equal pay claim, for example, but she has evidence of direct sex discrimination, she can bring a discrimination claim.