Cloisters fact sheet for #equalpayday


Cloisters has produced this fact sheet for #equalpayday to help employees understand whether they are being underpaid.

On Equal Pay Day how can the law help eradicate your pay gap?

Based on the mean salary for full time employees in the UK, today is the day on which women stop being paid for their work. The average female worker in the UK earns 13.9% less than her male counterpart, meaning that for the final 50 days of the year, she is effectively working for free whilst he is still being paid.

#equalpayday is trending on social media, but what practical steps can employees take if they discover they are being paid less than colleagues of a different sex?

Equal pay claims, which can be brought under the Equality Act 2010, are complex, but the summary below should help you to identify whether you may have a case. This summary assumes – particularly in the context of Equal Pay Day – a female complainant, but equal pay claims are equally available to men who are paid less than their female counterparts.

To bring an equal pay claim, you must usually be able to point to a “comparator”. This will generally be a male employee who is:

  • employed by your employer in the same workplace as you, or in a different workplace where the same terms and conditions apply;
  • employed on “equal work” to you, which could be work that is the same or broadly similar (“like work”), work that has been rated as equivalent under a job evaluation scheme, or work of “equal value”; and
  • receives more pay than you for that work, whether in terms of salary, benefits or bonus.

You can also compare yourself to a predecessor in your role as well as someone who is employed at the same time as you.

Employees often have difficulty finding out what their colleagues are paid, as many employers have non-transparent pay structures and arrangements. The law prohibits contractual terms which prevent employees from disclosing information about their pay where the information is sought to ascertain whether an employee is paid less because of her sex. Employees are also protected against suffering a detriment because they seek or provide information about pay in this context.

You may be able to bring a claim even if you cannot point to a male comparator, if you are able to produce evidence suggesting that a male employee in your role would be paid more than you because of his sex.

If you are able to point to a male comparator who fulfils the criteria set out above, your employer will in turn have to put forward a reason for the pay differential. If the reason for the differential has nothing to do with your sex (if, for example, it is genuinely because your comparator has better relevant qualifications, or even because a simple mistake has been made), your claim will not succeed. If the differential is simply because your colleague is a man and you are a woman, your claim will succeed. It may also be that the differential arises because of a factor that is apparently neutral but in fact affects women more than men; for example, a higher rate of pay is available for employees who are able to work a 24 hour rota, which is more problematic for women as they are more likely to have childcare responsibilities. In such cases, the employer will have to provide objective justification for the differential.

If, having read this, you think your employer may be in breach of your right to equal pay, do contact Cloisters. We are experts in the field and can advise on claims arising in all sectors. We are also able to work directly with members of the public, please simply complete the form at Cloisters Direct which is available here. You can also find more information about Cloisters at cloister.code. Alternatively, we can point you in the direction of a solicitor who can help you.