Equal pay legislation was introduced in the Equal Pay Act 1970, but in October 2012 was consolidated into the Equality Act 2010. It has a simple purpose – to ensure that where men and women are doing equal work in the same employment, they should receive the same pay and rewards for it. Pay and employment contract terms should be determined without sex discrimination or bias.
The equal pay for equal work provisions of tbe Equality Act 2010 apply to all employers, regardless of size or sector.
The provisions only apply to contractual terms. If an employee’s pay and benefits are not part of their contract, the employer must still not discriminate against them because of their sex. Discrimination in relation to a non-contractual payment, e.g. a discretionary bonus, could be a potential claim for unlawful sex discrimination rather than an equal pay claim.
Equal pay should fall within an overarching equal opportunities policy. This is designed to ensure that an employer runs an inclusive organisation where everyone is treated with fairness, tolerance and dignity and where diversity is recognised and respected.
Equal pay can be a complex area and professional advice should be sought to ensure you are not falling foul of the law.