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‘Equal pay day’ prompts reminder from expert

A leading employment lawyer is reminding businesses of treating male and female staff equally after it was revealed November 9 was ‘equal pay day.’

According to gender equality charity the Fawcett Society, November 9 was the symbolic date where, due to the pay gap, many women will effectively be working for free until the end of the year, despite carrying out the same role as male colleagues.

Now Oliver McCann, partner in the Employment team at Napthens solicitors, is reminding employers that they must give men and women equal treatment in the terms and conditions of employment if they are employed to do the same or equivalent roles, unless the differential is due to a material factor.

Oliver said: “Employers mustn’t forget that their staff can legally compare and discuss differences in pay and terms in their contracts of employment, although they can be required to keep pay rates confidential from people outside the workplace.

“Equal terms can include all aspects of pay and benefits, including basic pay, overtime rates, benefits, hours of work and access to pension schemes.

“Employees who think they are being treated unfairly can also write to their employer asking for further information, and if an issue cannot be resolved informally or through a grievance procedure, they may complain to an employment tribunal.

“A business will be able to defend a claim if they can show the reason for the difference is due to a genuine factor and not based on the sex of the employee i.e. qualifications or market forces.

“Businesses should ensure there is no discrimination by conducting an internal audit of pay and benefit arrangements and try to identify any anomalies. Where there are anomalies can they be explained – If not then advice is needed.

“They should also consider carrying out job evaluations and grading jobs so that employees within that grade will get paid the same.”

The warning comes after Hollywood actress Jennifer Lawrence spoke out about the gender pay gap following reports that she was paid less than male co-stars for the recent award-winning film, American Hustle.

Employment & HR - Partner - Oliver McCann