Despite successive government attempts to deal with the pay gap between men and women and the brave stand of female car workers in Dagenham during the 1960s ( immortalised in the British film Made in Dagenham) , equal pay is still an issue in this country and it’s still an employment law hot potato.
However, some change is afoot. Equal pay claims that are presented from the 1st October 2014 onwards requires employers who are in breach of equal pay legislation to carry out and publish equal pay audits.
This will put some employers in a very awkward situation. They will be required to identify pay differences between men and women doing the same job, stipulate the reasons for those differences and set out a plan for avoiding breaches in the future. It promises to be a pretty embarrassing scenario as offending businesses get named and shamed.
If an employer produces an equal pay audit which is not deemed satisfactory by an employment tribunal they may have to pay a penalty of up to £5000 and be given a date to produce an audit that is satisfactory. If they fail again, another penalty of up to £5000 could be imposed.
However, some businesses are exempt from this ruling. Micro-businesses (less than 10 employees) and the majority of new business start-ups will not be challenged about their equal pay situation so there still appears to be some way to go before equal pay in the UK is monitored everywhere.
It will be interesting to see over the next 12 months how this contentious part of employment law develops and who gets named and shamed in the process!