How can an employer defend an equal pay claim?

An employer can defend an equal pay claim by showing that the difference between the claimant's pay and their male comparator's is due to a material factor that does not discriminate directly because of sex. Some of the factors that may qualify are seniority, length of service or merit, qualifications or skill.

If the material factor is indirectly discriminatory (in that, as a result of the factor, the claimant and other female employees doing equal work to theirs are put at a particular disadvantage when compared with men doing equal work to theirs) the employer must show that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.