Employers must give men and women equal treatment in the terms and conditions of their employment contract if they are employed to do:
- 'like work' - work that is the same or broadly similar
- work rated as equivalent under a job evaluation study (see: Recruitment)
- work found to be of equal value in terms of effort, skill or decision making.
Employees can compare any terms in the contract of employment with the equivalent terms in a comparators contract. A comparator is an employee of the opposite sex working for the same employer, doing like work of equal value. However, an employer may defend a claim if they show the reason for the difference is due to a genuine factor and not based on the sex of the employee.
Employees are also entitled to know how their pay is made up. For example, if there is a bonus system, everyone should know how to earn bonuses and how they are calculated.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to prevent employees from having discussions to establish if there are differences in pay. However, an employer can require their employees to keep pay rates confidential from people outside of the workplace.
The gender pay gap
The gender pay gap differs from equal pay as it is concerned with the differences in the average pay between men and women over a period of time no matter what their role is. Equal pay deals with the pay differences between men and women who carry out the same or similar jobs. For information on the gender pay gap and the forthcoming regulations on calculating it, see our Gender pay gap reporting page.
The equal terms can cover all aspects of pay and benefits, including:
- basic pay
- overtime rates
- performance related benefits
- hours of work
- access to pension schemes
- non monetary terms
- annual leave entitlements.
What to do if you think you are not receiving equal pay
An employee who thinks they are not receiving equal pay can write to their employer asking for information that will help them establish whether there is a pay difference and if so the reasons for the difference.
If an employee cannot resolve the problem informally or through the formal grievance procedure, they may complain to an employment tribunal under the Equality Act 2010 while still working in the job or up to six months after leaving the employment to which your claim relates.
Since 1 October 2014 employers who lose equal pay claims could be forced to conduct an equal pay audit and publish the results.
For more on the Equality Act 2010, see our Equality and discrimination section.