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Equal Pay Q&A

On average an employment tribunal costs £10,000. Employment law specialists Empire HR recommend that organisations ensure that their pay structures are transparent, fair and easy to understand. According to Donna Gibb, Senior Employment Law Advisor at Empire HR this should minimise the risk of any potential equal pay claims.

The Equal Pay Act 1970 requires men and women to be remunerated equally where they are engaged in like work or, work which has been rated as being equivalent under a job evaluation scheme or, work which is of equal value. The cases quoted below represent situations where men and women have been involved in 'like work'.

Q - I employ both men and women however although they do the same work only men work the night shift. Am I justified in paying the men a higher rate?

A - In order to pay men and women different rates it is necessary to be able to objectively justify the reason for the differing rates. In the case of (Dugdale v Kraft Food Ltd) men and women worked on broadly similar work, but the men had to work a compulsory night shift. It was held the hours at which the work is performed should be paid at an equal rate however, those working night shift could be paid for this burden by a night shift payment or premium.

Q - At the moment all of my employees are male. I have recently interviewed for a new member of staff to carry out similar duties to existing staff but with some additional responsibilities. As the person I would like to offer the job to is female I want to be sure that if I pay her a higher rate than my existing employees that this will not be contravening any equal pay laws. Can you advise me please?

A - If male and female employees carry out similar duties but one sex undertakes work which involves additional responsibilities then it is possible for the employer to justify different rates of pay. For example in Eaton Ltd v Nuttall it was decided that a male employee should be paid more than a female employee carrying out like work because he was dealing with more expensive products and therefore had greater responsibility.

Q - Both men and women work in the warehouse section of my business. The women concentrate on the lighter aspects of the work including logistics and packing whereas the men complete the more physical aspects of the job such as loading and unloading. Are these differences great enough to merit different levels of pay?

A - The circumstances presented above are similar to the case of Noble v David Gold & Son (Holdings) Ltd. The Court of Appeal held the differences in terms of employee duties were significant enough to warrant different levels of pay between the male and female employees.

Empire HR provide commercially focused employment law and HR support service including a telephone advice line, HR Consultancy, employment tribunal insurance and health & safety support for businesses across Scotland. Empire HR can be contacted on 01224 701383 or at

Donna Gibb, Senior Employment Law Advisor of Empire HR recommends that organisations ensure that their pay structures are transparent, fair and easy to understand.
Donna Gibb, Senior Employment Law Advisor of Empire HR



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