100 years on - Tips for employees to resolve issues of equal pay?  

Employment | 19th February 2018

It is the 100th anniversary since women fought for the right to vote and they did literally fight for this right often having to resort to direct action to get their point across. Women were imprisoned and sides were polarised. Those particular women were brave, strong and prepared to sacrifice their freedom for what they believed in. What have we learned since that struggle and how has this translated to equal rights in the workplace.

The issue of equal pay in the workplace has been recently highlighted again by over 200,000 Tesco female employees who are bringing one of the largest equal pay claims in the UK and BBC women presenters’ battle to be paid at an equal rate to their male counterparts.

At present the BBC women’s claims are likely to be in the workplace and hopefully will lead to a resolution between the parties but Tesco employees are dealing with these issues now through the Tribunals with Tesco potentially facing a 4 billion pay out.

Many employees who do not have the ability to obtain legal advice must be wondering what to do if they discover they are being paid less than their male colleagues and also at the same time maintain a harmonious working relationship if they do raise this issue.

Here are some tips to consider: –

  1. Obtain evidence about the market rate for your job and speak to female colleagues who may be able to help you or join you in raising this issue so you are not alone.
  2. Speak to a male colleague who is doing the same job and ask them if they are willing to disclose how much they are being paid. Employers may say that pay rates are confidential but it is not unlawful to talk about salaries.
  3. If you are unable to obtain the information informally from a colleague to disclose this information then you could ask your employer.
  4. Speak to your employer informally to find out if there is a reason why a male college is being paid more than you. An employer may have a legitimate reason for a different pay structure such as performance or market rates for the job when the person was recruited so it is important to check.
  5. If you are unable to resolve the matter informally then you can raise a formal grievance setting why you believe you should be paid the same as your male counterpart.
  6. If you are unable to resolve informally ask for your employer’s formal grievance policy, there may be a group of you who are being paid less and consider seeking to resolve the issue as a group so you are not isolated.
  7. Consider some form of mediation service if you are unable to resolve the matter through a formal grievance process.
  8. The last resort is an employment tribunal claim and Tesco employees are likely to have the backing of their union.

Women hopefully do not have to be imprisoned to obtain equal pay as the law has been in place since the 1970’s. It is important for business to attempt to reach a resolution because a happy working environment is a more productive working environment.

Jane Crosby

Associate, Dispute Resolution

Jane specialises in commercial litigation and employment law acting for both employers and employees in both contentious and non-contentious matters. ...