What employers need to know about equal pay

What employers need to know about equal pay

Asda recently hit the headlines after 9,500 female store workers claimed they were paid less than male warehouse workers.

In the modern workplace, where sex or gender should be inconsequential to an employee’s opportunities, equality in pay is an issue that cannot be ignored.

Speaking to HR Grapevine, Kate Palmer, Assistant Head of Advisory at Peninsula, says that job roles don’t always have to be the same to be considered for equal pay. She gave three examples:

Like work - the same or broadly similar work where any differences are not of practical importance.

Work rated as equivalent - work which could be different in nature, but which has been rated under a job evaluation scheme as being of equal value.

Work of equal value - different work but of equal value in terms of factors such as effort, skill and decision making.”

She continues: “If an employee does choose to claim, it is up to them to find a comparator of the opposite sex that can be proven to be both carrying out work which falls into one of the above categories and is receiving a higher wage. The most recent development in the Asda case is an employment tribunal’s finding that the female store workers [can] pursue a claim by comparing themselves to the male warehouse workers.

“When facing a pay claim such as this, employers must be able to provide evidence that the discrepancy in pay is due to a material, non-discriminatory factor such as experience or knowledge, and not based on the employee’s sex, if they wish to successfully defend themselves.

“If an employer is found to have given an unfair wage to an employee based on their sex or gender, and the employee successfully claims, the employer could be forced to not only increase their wage, but also provide back pay for up to six years. Claims can be made to employment tribunal within six months of termination of employment which is double the time limit for most other claims.”

She concludes by giving her five key take-homes for employers on this subject, which can be seen below.

  1. “Ensure pay/opportunities are based on merit
  2. “Ensure comprehensive records of pay are kept
  3. “Don’t assume that because roles are different, that they cannot be deemed as ‘like work’
  4. “Conduct a brief review now to avoid claims
  5. “Keep all company policies under review” 

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