Equal pay: what does it mean?

Overview

ACAS explains that by law, men and women must get equal pay for doing ‘equal work’ (work that equal pay law classes as the same, similar, equivalent or of equal value). This means someone must not get less pay compared to to someone who is both:

  • The opposite sex
  • Doing equal work for the same employer

In the vast majority of cases, the topic of equal pay shouldn’t be an issue in schools with the majority of teachers employed under the terms of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD). Although there have been a number of cases reported.

In this article, we refer to information from ACAS on the topic of equal pay, when differences in pay might be allowed and what to do if you would like to raise a concern.

Equal pay: terms and conditions

ACAS explains that equal pay law applies to pay and terms and conditions of employment, including:

  • Basic salary
  • Basic wages
  • Pension
  • Working hours
  • Annual leave allowance
  • Holiday pay
  • Overtime pay
  • Redundancy pay
  • Sick pay
  • Performance-related pay, for example a bonus that’s in the employment contract

Equal pay law is covered by the Equality Act 2020 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) statutory code of practice on equal pay. We’ve written another support article which provides a summary of the Equality Act.

What counts as equal work?

By law, ‘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

When differences in pay might be allowed

Differences in pay and other terms and conditions might be allowed in some circumstances. For example, it might be possible for someone to be paid more than someone of the opposite sex who does similar work because:

  • They’re better qualified, if their skills are crucial to the job and hard to recruit
  • Of where they are located – for example, in London where the cost of living is higher

Getting paid more must have nothing to do with someone’s sex. For example:

A woman might get paid more than a man doing similar work because they’re better qualified and skilled for the job. If there’s an equal pay case, the employer might have to prove, for example, that the woman’s qualifications and skills are crucial for the job, and that they had difficulties hiring and keeping people in the job now done by the woman. But getting paid more must be nothing to do with their sex.

If any circumstances only account for part of the difference in pay, someone might still have an equal pay case.

Every case depends on the individual circumstances, and this can be a complex area, so if you’re an Edapt subscriber it’s best to contact us for advice and support.

Equal pay: is it different to gender pay gap reporting?

Equal pay and gender pay gap reporting are not the same thing. A gender pay gap is the average difference in pay between men and women, for example across an organisation.

Employers with 250 or more employees must publish figures about their gender pay gap.

Information on requirements for gender pay gap reporting can be found here.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.