Women working full-time earn on average 17% less than men working full-time. And for ethnic minority women, the gap is still wider - a gaping 20% disparity.*
The Equal Pay Act does however, go some way in maintaining equality. Here are the facts to help you get a fair deal.
What does equal pay really mean?
The Equal Pay Act says that men and women have the same rights to equal treatment for work of a broadly similar nature; or work rated as equal value under a job evaluation scheme.
What's the going rate for the job?
Before applying for a job, conduct some research into how much the role is worth so that you are in a strong position to negotiate your salary at an interview . If the pay isn't made clear in the job advertisement, the role will probably carry an existing salary range, taking into account the role's market value and its geographical location.
What happens if I accept a job and find I'm being paid less than equivalent colleagues?
You can bring an equal pay claim by lodging a case at an employment tribunal if you suspect you are being paid less because of your ethnic origins or gender . You must identify a person, the "comparator", who is doing equal work in the same employment and who is earning a higher salary than you. "Pay" in this context means not just your basic salary, but also contractual terms and conditions such as pension, sick pay, holiday pay, performance pay and overtime .
Although the employer can try to defend a claim by arguing that the reason for the difference in pay is based on something other than gender or ethnic origin, such as market forces, discrimination legislation now makes it easier to bring successful pay claims in the case of sex discrimination. The employer must prove that a pay regime is not discriminatory, rather than request that the employee prove that it is.
What about the national minimum wage?
The national minimum wage was introduced by the government in 1999 to ensure the minimum amount of pay entitlement. There are different rates according to age (16-17 years old; 18-21 years old and one for workers aged 22 and older). Check what the current minimum wage is at HM Revenue & Customs.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Fawcett Society
The information on these pages is provided for your information and reference only. Before making any important decisions regarding your employment or any legal matter, you should consult a qualified professional adviser who can provide specific advice based on your individual position.