Can Too Many Cooks Spoil the Paintwork?

What do a male cook and a female painter have in common?  One answer might be that their roles are given as an example of equal value (in terms of effort, skill or decision making) under the Equal Pay Statutory Code of Practice.

So, if you are a female painter who gets paid less than a male cook and you both work for the BBC (for example) does the recent abolition of Employment Tribunal fees mean that you should now consider bringing a case against your employer?

The answer to that question is – only if you feel you have a genuine grievance under the law.  All aspects of employment law (including equal pay) are complex and before you get to an Employment Tribunal you will be expected to have tried all means available to reach an agreement with your employer, whatever the dispute.

The Equality Act 2010 sets out entitlement to equal pay for men and women who carry out the same jobs, similar jobs and work of equal value. Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union also applies. For most purposes, the European legislation simply enhances the provisions of the domestic legislation.

Under the Act pay includes basic pay, occupational pension benefits, non-discretionary bonuses, holiday pay, sick pay, overtime, and shift payments. It also includes what used to be called ‘perks’ that is non-monetary contractual terms such as leave of absence, company cars, or access to sports and social benefits.

You are entitled to be paid equally if you are:

  • an  employee (or a former employee within six months of the end of your employment, although this can be extended in specific, limited circumstances)
  • a worker
  • an agency worker
  • serving in the armed forces. However, you must first make a claim under the Service Redress Procedure,
  • a crown employee
  • an office holder (statutory office holders, for example, police officers, are protected by Article 157)
  • a partner in a firm
  • self-employed
  • a trainee or an apprentice.

If you wish to bring an equal pay claim you will have to find a comparator, that is, another worker of the opposite sex who is employed by the same employer or an associated employer.  A comparator is someone who does or has done,

  • the same or broadly similar work to you (‘like work’);
  • different work which is rated under the same job evaluation scheme as being work of equal value (‘work rated as equivalent’); or,
  • different work which is of equal value in terms of factors such as effort, skill and decision-making (‘work of equal value’).

If you do want to pursue a claim for equal pay you or any other grievance you may have against your employer you may want to get specialist advice.  You can get this from ACAS on 0300 123 1100.  If you have a hearing or speech impairment may prefer to use their Text Relay service by dialling 18001 0300 123 1100.  You can also access their webpage for advice.

You can also get information and specialist advice on employment issues as well as how to deal with problems relating to Debt, Benefits, Work, Consumer Issues, Relationships, Housing, Law and Rights, Education, Discrimination, Tax and Healthcare by:

  • calling 0344 848 7969 to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face-to face. (calls to this service cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package,
  • visiting to access our comprehensive range of information and advice,
  • or follow us on Twitter @ Waverley CAB
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