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Equal pay

Updating author: Tina McKevitt


  • The law relating to equal pay is governed by the Equality Act 2010, the core provisions of which came into force on 1 October 2010. The Equality Act 2010 largely consolidated the previous equal pay legislation - the Equal Pay Act 1970 - although it also introduced some new concepts.
  • The right to equal pay for equal work for men and women is derived from European legislation and from the Equality Act 2010. Men and women are entitled to equal pay with each other, although in practice it is usually women who claim the right. (See The right to equal pay)
  • A woman may claim that she should be paid equally with a man who works for the same employer or for an associated employer. He does not have to work on the same premises as the woman. (See The comparator)
  • A woman's work is equal to a man's work if it is like work, work rated as equivalent to his work or work of equal value to his work. (See Equal work)
  • An employer can argue that, although a female employee has not been paid equivalently with a male employee who does equal work, the difference is due to a material factor that is a material difference between the woman's case and the man's case. (See Material factor defence)
  • Section 77 of the Equality Act 2010 renders unenforceable pay secrecy clauses that purport to prevent employees from sharing information about contractual terms with a view to establishing whether or not there is any discrimination. (See Pay secrecy clauses)
  • Although pay systems reviews are not required by law unless ordered by an employment tribunal, the Equality and Human Rights Commission recommends a pay system review as the most appropriate method of ensuring that a pay system delivers equal pay free from sex bias. (See Equality and Human Rights Commission's recommended equal pay audit model)

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