As you may be aware, 2018 marks 100 years since some British women were first guaranteed the right to vote. The Representation of the People Act was adopted in February 1918, eventually paving the way for universal women's suffrage in the country.
Although we have come so far in time, and therefore there is an assumption that there are no inequalities between the treatment of men and women in today’s society, such indifferences remain a point of contention when it comes to employment.
The northeast saw the initial boom of the equal pay litigation which was initiated by large multiple claims against NHS authorities across the UK, and then similar claims in the public sector. Female claimants such as cleaners, and dinner ladies who received a lower hourly rate compared their jobs to gardeners, and bin men and male cleaners who received higher pay and/or bonuses and attendance payments, just for turning up to work! Birmingham City Council was enthralled in such litigation, and found that it settled claims in the region of around 1bn, with claims from thousands of men and women, and spanning back over a number of years.
Just when we thought it was all over, ASDA, another large employer was faced with similar claims, and the Tribunal have recently ruled in favour of the female shop workers who can compare their roles to mainly men who work in the distribution centres. These claims are ongoing, and although ASDA have appealed this decision, there are approximately 20,000 cases in the ASDA litigation, together with Sainsbury, and now Tesco being added to the mix of supermarkets affected by similar cases.
The Tesco equal pay claim has been estimated to be the biggest equal pay claim to date, and could see a setback of £4bn for the retailer if they are unsuccessful, where female shop assistants claim say they earn up to £3 per hour less than their male counterparts who work in the warehouse in similar roles.
With the recent spike of the equal pay claim culture, and as an employer, you do not want to be faced with the prospect of 100’s of claims being made against your business.
At present, the Gender Pay Gap Reporting regulations, under the Equality Act 2010 currently in force only apply to private employers with 250 or more employees only. Under these regulations, employers are required to submit a report which includes information about the pay between men and women including bonuses, and covers a specified criteria. The report needs to be submitted online by April 2018.
In the circumstances, we would advise you to seek legal advice about an Equal Pay Audit that can be carried out on behalf of your organisation, and in advance of the reporting procedure as outlined above. An audit of this kind, would identify any pay disparities between pay, and these can be remedied accordingly where necessary.