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Has the gender pay gap report made you wonder if you are receiving equal pay?


The gender pay gap

Is your colleague being paid more than you, and the sole reason is because they are a different gender? Is there something you can you do about it? In the UK, there are equal pay laws and sex discrimination laws which say that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work.

Firstly find out if you are being paid less for the same work than a colleague of a different gender. How do you find out if your colleague is being paid more than you?

  • You could ask them
  • You can ask your employer to undertake a job evaluation
  • You can look on your company website. Employers with over 250 employees are now legally obliged to publish the difference in the levels that they pay men and women. This is known as Gender Pay Gap Reporting.

Secondly you need to establish that you are being paid differently but doing the same work. Any employee can compare themselves to a colleague doing the same work if they are working for the same employer. Primarily, you must establish that the work is ‘like work’, ‘work rated as equivalent’ or ‘work of equal value’. This is often hotly contested by employers, because if they can prove the work that you and your colleague do is not the same, then they have a defence against your claim.


Once you believe you can show your colleague is being paid more, and that the only reason is your gender, you may be able to make a claim against your employer using equal pay or sex discrimination laws.

If you are being paid differently for the same work than someone of the opposite gender, equal pay laws apply. Alternatively, if you are paid equally but you think that the terms of their contract are better than yours, you may be able to establish a claim under sex discrimination laws.

Claims under equal pay laws look at difference in pay between the sexes covering issues such as –

  • Basic pay.
  • Automatic pay progression.
  • Paid holiday entitlement.
  • Sick pay.
  • Hours of work.
  • Performance-related pay and benefits, overtime rates and allowances.
  • Non-discretionary bonuses.
  • Contractual benefits in kind such as company cars.
  • Pension benefits and access to pension schemes.

Sex equality claims cover contractual discrimination between men and women such as –

  • Job offered where the terms of the job are not equal for a man and a woman
  • The terms of a job offer.
  • Promotions.
  • Discretionary pay rises.
  • Discretionary bonuses.

Equal Pay

Equal pay laws that ensure that a woman who has taken maternity leave does not lose the benefit of any pay rise or bonuses awarded during either her maternity leave or on her return to work. On the other hand, a man cannot make a claim based on more favourable terms enjoyed by a woman as a result of her pregnancy or maternity.

In their defence, an employer can rely on establishing that there is a material factor which necessitates that you and your colleague are paid differently. You will not have a sex equality claim if your employer shows that the difference in contractual terms is neither directly nor indirectly sex discriminatory. If it is gender neutral, but in practice has a disproportionately adverse impact on women, the employer will still be required to justify the difference.

Equal pay claims and sex equality claims are usually brought in an employment tribunal. If you win an equal pay claim, the employment tribunal will confirm your right and require your employer to pay any arrears of pay or damages for breach of a contractual term. This could be back dated for up to 6 years. If you win a sex equality claim, the employment tribunal will imply a “sex equality clause” into a woman’s contract of employment. This will replace the less favourable term(s) with the equivalent more favourable term(s) of a man’s contract.

How can we help?

If you believe you are or have been paid less than your colleague of a different gender, or the terms of your contract are not as favourable as your colleague and the reason for that is because you are a different sex, please contact our experts in the Employment Team at Levins Solicitors on 0151 480 5777 or fill out the contact form on our Employment Law page and we will be in touch.


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