Pay has a wide meaning and includes benefits. The Act implies a sex equality clause into everyone’s contract of employment, modifying any term that is less favourable to someone of the opposite sex. The European Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission publish codes of practice, which although not legally binding, may be used in evidence in equal pay claims.
The law requires a four stage approach: (1) Selecting an appropriate comparator of the opposite sex. (2) Proving that the comparator is employed to carry out equal work. (3) Comparing the claimant’s and the comparator’s terms and conditions of employment. (4) Assessing whether the employer can explain any discrepancy in pay (“the material factor defence”) and whether the difference is due to sex discrimination. Employers are advised to carry out regular Equal Pay audits to ensure their workforce remains competitive and motivated and to avoid the possibility of an equal pay challenge.