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Equal pay


The Equality Act 2010 gives women and men the right to claim equal pay with each other where they are doing equal work under their contract of employment. Equal work is:

The right is not limited to equality of pay but extends to all terms under the employment contract.

The Equality Act 2010 repealed and replaced the Equal Pay Act 1970 and other discrimination legislation. The Equality Act consolidated and modernised the Equal Pay Act provisions and introduced some changes and new positive duties for the Government and employers. For example, employers that have lost equal pay claims must in certain circumstances carry out equal pay audits if ordered to do so by the employment tribunal.

Unlike the repealed Equal Pay Act 1970, the Equality Act does not mention "pay" specifically and instead refers to "equality of terms". However, as "equal pay" is still the commonly used term, we will continue to use it throughout this section and it should be read as including the benefits covered by the provisions on equality of terms.

Equal pay is achieved by implying a sex equality clause into every employee's contract of employment.

The right to equal pay is engaged where the person is:

  • employed, or holds a personal or public office;
  • able to compare their work with that of a comparator; and
  • doing work that is equal to that comparator.

The definition of "employed" is broader than under unfair dismissal law as it includes workers.

An employer will have a defence to an equal pay claim if it can show that the reason for the inequality of terms is due to a material factor that does not amount to indirect or direct sex discrimination.

Equal pay is different from the gender pay gap, which measures the differences between the average pay of male and female employees irrespective of job role or seniority.