Gender inequality in the workplace remains a prevalent issue across a range of industry sectors, often manifesting in disparities in pay and benefits between male and female employees. Understanding and addressing this inequality is crucial for fostering a fair work environment. In this post, we have explored the intricacies of dealing with gender inequality and the possibility of making a sex discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA) when you are treated unfairly in the workplace due to your gender.
Understanding Equal Pay Claims
Equal pay claims are a significant aspect of the battle against gender inequality in the workplace. These claims can be categorised into two types; a straightforward sex discrimination claim or a claim under The Equality Act 2010. Distinguishing which path to pursue can be complex and it is beneficial to get some tailored advice. Disputes over pay, benefits and bonuses typically fall under the EqA but may also constitute sex discrimination. Consequently, claimants often pursue dual claims to cover all bases.
It is important to note that equal pay claims and sex discrimination claims are not limited to one gender, both men and women have the right to take a case to the Employment Tribunal. The fundamental principle is that everyone is entitled to equal pay for equal work, regardless of their gender. This inclusive approach underlines the commitment to ensuring fairness in the workplace, making it clear that the issue of equality affects the workforce as a whole.
The Scope of the Equality Act 2010
The equality provisions of the EqA encompass everything included in the employment contract. This includes salary, holiday and sick pay, as well as bonuses, overtime and benefits such as work-related pensions and health insurance. The EqA stipulates that women are entitled to claim pay equal to their male colleagues if they are in the same employment and engaging in;
- Work that is the same or very similar to an employee of the opposite sex.
- Work rated as equivalent under an analytical job evaluation scheme.
- Work of equal value, where jobs that are different but equivalent in terms of things such as skills, effort, decision-making, etc.
Reporting Gender Inequality
When facing gender inequality in the workplace, the process of making a claim can be intricate but is crucial for ensuring fair treatment. The steps involved in reporting and addressing these disparities are outlined below;
Identifying a Comparator
For an employee to begin their claim, the first step is to find a suitable point of comparison. This involves identifying a colleague of the opposite sex whose role and responsibilities are comparable to theirs. This comparator can be a current or past employee. The aim is to establish a clear and fair basis for comparison between the roles. While employees can choose multiple comparators to strengthen their case, it is important to note that increasing the number of comparators can add complexity to the claim.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Navigating the complexities of a gender inequality or gender discrimination claim requires specialised legal expertise. Speaking to a solicitor who has experience in employment law is a critical step. These legal professionals not only provide guidance on the intricacies of the claim process at an Employment Tribunal but also represent you in negotiations or legal proceedings, ensuring your rights are adequately protected and advocated for.
Resolving Gender Inequality
Once an employee has taken the necessary steps to make a claim, the onus then shifts to the employer. The employer must demonstrate that any differences in pay or benefits are not rooted in discrimination. This stage is crucial in the resolution of gender inequality and can lead to significant outcomes for both the employee and the employer.
Justifying Pay Differences
After an employee has filed a claim, the employer is tasked with providing a valid and non-discriminatory reason for any pay discrepancies. This can involve a detailed analysis of job roles, responsibilities and the criteria used for determining pay or benefits. The employer must prove that any disparity in pay is due to factors unrelated to the employee’s gender, such as experience, qualifications or performance-based criteria.
Compensation for Successful Claims
In cases where a claim for equal pay or sex discrimination is successful, the resolution often involves financial compensation. This compensation typically includes backdated pay covering up to six years from the date the claim was lodged. However, you need to demonstrate that you were engaged in work of equal value throughout this period to qualify for the full extent of the compensation. Compensation can also be awarded for injury to health or feelings.
Implications for Employers
For employers, a successful claim against them can have significant financial implications. Besides the compensation to be paid, they might also need to reassess and restructure their pay scales and benefits packages to ensure compliance with equality laws. This is a critical step in preventing future claims and fostering a fair and equitable workplace culture.