Thursday, 26 March 2015

Fair pay for a fair day's work

Employees should not be deterred from fighting their corner when it comes to their right for equal pay.

John Mehtam is the employment law expert at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and he said secrecy surrounding the amount male and female colleagues were paid was often at the root of problems in the workplace.

“The Equality Act 2010, and before that, the Equal Pay Act 1970, back the principle that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. And despite the fact that over the years some employers have tried to discourage staff from discussing these matters, it is actually against the law to victimise anyone who reveals their rate of pay, or anyone who asks the question.

“Employers cannot punish or dismiss anyone who submits an equal pay claim, and in some instances, failing to pay staff equally may even amount to sex discrimination. So if you suspect you’re not receiving the same pay rate as a colleague of the opposite sex, it’s vital that you take legal advice and force your employer to reveal exactly what the figures are.

“Although this may seem like a daunting prospect, and you may be worried about being labelled as a trouble-maker, don’t be put off – the law is on your side and you’re entitled to a fair rate of pay.”

John said equal pay claims were usually brought in an employment tribunal, but in some circumstances, a claim can also be made through the civil courts. “You can instigate an equal pay claim at any time during employment it relates to, or if the employment has ended, any time before the end of the qualifying period.

“This means differences in pay could date back up to six years before the date the claim was lodged, which could be extremely expensive for any employer found guilty of discriminating between male and female staff.”

John said new regulations introduced in 2014 had also brought in compulsory equal pay audits which must be carried out by larger employers.

“Any employer who fails to carry out an audit when they are required to, may face a fine of up to £5,000 – so not only could the bill for arrears be costly, but substantial fines could prove extremely damaging.”