If you have experienced or are still experiencing the unfairness of unequal pay at work, start an equal pay claim by contacting our specialist team of equal pay solicitors today.
The Equal Pay Act protects employees by ensuring men and women receive equal pay for doing equal work, unless a pay difference can be justified.
At Leigh Day, we understand it can be frustrating to learn that you aren’t being compensated fairly for the same work compared to a colleague of the opposite sex.
Complicated time limits apply to equal pay claims and vary based on whether you:
- Are still in employment
- Have left employment
- Are making a discrimination claim.
Our expert team of equal pay solicitors has more than 35 years of experience in the field. We can help find out if you have a claim and guide you through the next steps.
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Visit our Equal Pay Now website if you are a supermarket worker
Leigh Day has launched legal claims to challenge the unfair treatment of UK shop workers. Our clients work long, arduous hours and yet they are underpaid compared to their colleagues working in distribution centres and warehouses.
If the court rules in our favour, any eligible supermarket and high street shop workers who sign up to our claims may receive backpay as well as a pay increase from this action.
Visit Equal Pay Now
Read more about our action against ASDA, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Co-op and Next.
What are equal pay claims?
Equal pay laws fall under the Equality Act 2010. If you’re being paid less than a colleague of the opposite sex while doing equal work, an equal pay claim could help you get paid fairly.
Equal work means you and your colleague carry out the same tasks, or roles that have been rated as equivalent under a job evaluation process, or roles that are different but have a similar level of responsibility and skills.
If successful, an equal pay claim will entitle you to a fair pay increase, often including back pay. This can give you the money you should have received while you were underpaid. The employment tribunal may also order your employer to complete an equal pay audit.
However, while you could be doing similar work for less pay, it’s important to note that your employer may justify the pay difference for non-discriminatory reasons, too.
This could include:
- Length of service
- Geographical reasons (such as a London-based salary)
- Market forces at the time of their recruitment.
These details can become very complicated, which is why it’s best to seek advice early if you think you have a claim.
Who can make an equal pay claim?
No matter your sex, you can make an equal pay claim if you’re doing equal work to a colleague of the opposite sex while being paid less. The Equality Act automatically changes your contract of employment to ensure that your pay and other contractual benefits are no less favourable than those of your colleague. The colleague does not have to work in the same location as you.
Equal pay rights cover more than just your salary. You can also compare other contractual compensation such as:
- Pension contributions
- Holiday pay
- Sick pay
- Working hours
- Performance-related pay
- Annual leave entitlement
Under protection of the Equality Act, you could also make a discrimination claim if you think you’re being underpaid or treated less favourably due to characteristics such as:
- Sex (unless your claim falls under the equal pay provisions)
- Sexual orientation
How do I make an equal pay claim?
Speaking up isn’t always easy. We understand that bringing an equal pay claim against your employer can be distressing, which is why we’re here to help. If you believe you have a claim, you can usually expect to follow these steps:
Before you make a legal claim, it’s a good idea to initiate an informal discussion about the issue with your employer.
If you were unable to resolve the matter informally, the next steps are to consider raising a formal grievance. This allows your employer to investigate the dispute before you take legal action.
If you’re still unable to resolve the dispute, it may be time to consider making an equal pay or discrimination claim.
If you’re concerned about unequal pay at your place of work, contact Leigh Day for help and support. You can still come to us for legal advice during the early stages of your equal pay dispute and we’ll walk you through the next steps.
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Our work with equal pay claims
We have represented thousands of Local Authority employees. Here are just a few of our most notable examples:
Birmingham City Council
Leigh Day successfully brought an equal pay claim against Birmingham City Council. In a landmark judgment we ensured that claims that were out of time in the Employment Tribunal could be heard in the High Court instead where the time limit is much longer (see below)..
This significant decision enabled Leigh Day to assist over 4,500 employees who had been underpaid.
Coventry City Council
Leigh Day represent over 80 GMB members in their equal pay claims against Coventry City Council. These claims examined various pay practices that were granted to male workers in the waste department but were not given to female employees on the same grade.
The Equality Act states that your employer must treat male and female employees equally in the terms and conditions of their employment contract if they are employed to do equal work.
Leigh Day has brought local authority equal pay cases since 2009. We are proud to have helped thousands of employees make sure they are not receiving less pay because of their sex.
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Equal pay FAQs
To make a grievance about equal pay to your employer, you do not need to be able to prove there is a pay issue. Due to the secrecy that too often surrounds pay, you may only have a suspicion, rather than concrete evidence, that you are not receiving equal pay or benefits to a colleague of the opposite sex while doing equal work, due to the secrecy that often surrounds pay. If you do have evidence you should mention this in your grievance.
The time limit for bringing an equal pay claim to the employment tribunal can vary depending on your circumstances.
If you are currently working for the employer in the role to which your claim relates, the time limit has not started yet. If you have left your employer, or your role has changed in certain ways, you will have six months from the day you left or from when your role changed. The time limit in the civil courts is six years (five years in Scotland).
If your equal pay claim is successful, you may be entitled to up to six years of back pay starting from the date the proceedings were filed with the employment tribunal. In Scotland, you can receive up to a maximum of five years of back pay.
An employer may defend an equal pay claim in a few ways, including:
- Providing evidence that your colleague is being paid more for non-discriminatory reasons.
- Demonstrating how your work is not equal.