What are my rights to equal pay and how do I make a claim?

What are your rights if you find there is a difference between your pay and a male counterpart (or vice versa)?

The starting point is that men and women doing equal work and work rated as of equal value are entitled to equal pay, and this includes bonuses, as well as salaries. A woman is employed on ‘like work’ with a man if her work is of the same or a broadly similar nature, and it is for the employer to show that there is a genuine reason for any difference in pay which is not based on the sex of an individual. You are also entitled to know how your pay is calculated. For example, if there is a bonus system, everyone should know those bonuses can be earned.

If you cannot resolve the issues informally, you should lodge a formal grievance in the first instance, clearly setting out your claim. You will need to choose a “comparator” (i.e. someone of the opposite sex) with whom you want to claim equal pay with. Your comparator must be employed either by your employer, or by an associated employer (for example, a parent company), at the same establishment or workplace but not necessarily the same location. Your employer will then investigate your grievance and call a meeting to discuss the issues and then make a decision on whether or not it is upheld.

If the informal or grievance route does not resolve matters, you can bring a claim based on direct discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, and such a claim usually needs to be made within 3 months of the last act discrimination that is complained about.

You can also lodge an Equal Pay claim in an employment tribunal under the Equality Act , and such a claim can be made while you are still working or at any time up to six months after leaving employment. Recent case law has held that if the time limit has passed for bringing a claim in the employment tribunal, you can bring an action through the courts and there is a much longer limitation period of 6 years in which to do so.

If you are considering taking action, you should keep copies of all relevant communications with your employer, including notes of meetings and emails. This could be powerful evidence in your favour should you need to rely on the same in your claim. As always, it is best to obtain legal advice before pursuing your claim.