The principle that men and women are entitled to equal pay for doing equal work is grounded in European Union law and is enshrined in UK law by the Equality Act 2010 (previously the Equal Pay Act 1970). It’s a simple enough principle but sometimes hard to spot and it is more commonly the domain of female workers who assert equal pay claims in comparison to their male colleagues.
However, in a timely reminder that the principle applies equally to men as it does to women, 18 male plumbers, caretakers and tradesmen from the University of Wales, Trinity St David successfully asserted an equal pay claim when it was discovered that they were on a lower hourly rate than their female colleagues on the same pay grade who were employed as secretaries and office workers.
Whilst the claim was initially contested, at the eleventh hour, the University conceded the claim and reports suggest that the claimants stand to share a payout of £500,000 in respect of backdated pay.
It was thought that as the swathe of equal pay claims in the public sector were coming to a close, that would be the end of the large multiple claims for equal pay, but claimants and lawyers are now turning their attention to the private sector. Recent reports identify supermarkets as the next category of employers in the spotlight with ASDA facing a claim by 400 female workers who are employed as shelf stackers asserting equal pay to their male counterparts in the warehouse distribution centres.
The lesson to be learned is, just because your job looks different to that of other colleagues, it may not be, at least in terms of pay equality.
If you would like further information on this topic please contact the Edwin Coe Employment Team.
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