To mark 50 years since the Equal Pay Act 1970 was passed, Acas have issued updated advice on equal pay including good practice guidance for employers on how to try to prevent discriminatory practices in their workplace.
The new guidance is aimed at employers to help them understand the law around equal pay. Since the act was passed it means men and women must get equal pay for doing ‘equal work’. The three sections cover ‘equal pay and the law’, ‘preventing equal pay issues’ and ‘if you are not getting equal pay’ - how staff can raise concerns at work.
Equal work counts as either:
- Like work' – work where the job and skills are the same or similar
- 'Work rated as equivalent' – work rated as equivalent, usually using a fair job evaluation. This could be because the level of skill, responsibility and effort needed to do the work are equivalent
- 'Work of equal value' – work that is not similar but is of equal value. This could be because the level of skill, training, responsibility or demands of the working conditions are of equal value
The advice goes on to suggest employers can prevent many equal pay issues by being clear and open with staff about pay and contractual terms and conditions. To minimise the risk of unequal pay they recommend:
- Having an equal pay policy
- Having up to date job descriptions the accurately reflect the work done
- Making sure men and women who do the same work do not have different job titles
- Being consistent when deciding people’s pay and contractual terms and conditions
Where an equal pay policy is in place it should be easy for staff to understand. It should also clearly explain how the company will deal with complaints about equal pay and how they will check the policy is working. If an equal pay claim is brought against an employer, they can be forced to carry out an equal pay audit and publish the results. This only applies if they have over 10 staff and have been established for longer than 1 year.
Graham Irons comments:
"This guidance will be helpful for employers in what is a complex area. The recommendations should also be read in conjunction with the Equality and Human Rights Commission statutory code of practice and be considered alongside gender pay reporting. There is also useful information regarding informal steps that employers can take to resolve disputes. If you require any further assistance or would like to get in touch with a member of the team regarding equal pay you can do so here."
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