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Top 10 Tips For Bringing An Equal Pay Claim

Matthew Grant

Matthew Grant

If you are male or female employee or worker who believes that the pay you are receiving is not fair due to your sex then you may have an equal pay claim.

Matthew Grant, an equal pay expert from our employment law team, shares his top 10 tips for bringing an equal pay claim:

  1. Find a solicitor who is an expert in equal pay: An equal pay claim is one of the most complex claims that a worker can bring at an Employment Tribunal. You will need advice about what type of claim to bring – sex discrimination, equal pay, or both. You will also need advice about time limits for bringing a claim, what period of pay arrears you might hope to recover, how to use comparators, and whether you might succeed in showing equal work.
  2. Identify your comparators: Try to find out their names, the start date of their employment, what their job title is, where they work, and – if possible – what they are paid. You can have any number of comparators.
  3. Raise an effective grievance: Make your employer realise that this is about equal pay, not just fair pay. Tell them who your comparator is, explain that he or she is doing “equal work”, and say what you think he or she is earning. Unless you raise a grievance and see the process through, you run the risk of having any award of compensation reduced by up to 25%.
  4. Prepare for your grievance meeting: If you do not know what your comparator earns, ask. If your employer denies that you and your employer are doing equal work, ask why. If they say the pay difference is ‘legal’, again ask why. The more questions you ask, the more ‘explanations’ your employer might give and trip themselves up.
  5. Make sure you tell your employer what you want in the grievance process: Equal pay includes “arrears pay”, not just future equality. You might be entitled to receive up to six years’ back pay.
  6. Serve an Equal Pay Questionnaire: It is unlikely that you will get all of the information you need in order to bring an equal pay claim. Sending an Equality Act Questionnaire about Equal Pay is a useful way of obtaining information from your employer. Unless you have already brought a claim, you can send a Questionnaire at any time. If your employer fails to respond to the questionnaire within eight weeks or answers questions evasively then you can ask the Employment Tribunal to draw “adverse inferences”.
  7. Do not necessarily take what your employer says at face value: Your employer is likely to seek legal advice at the earliest stage. They may well be told to deny that you and your comparator do “equal work”, and say in any event that there is a “material factor” which justifies any pay differences. Just because your employer might say this, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right.
  8. Bring an equal pay claim: If you do not achieve what you want, you may need to consider bringing an equal pay claim. If you have been employed for six years or more then you should not delay in bringing a claim as you could lose out on some pay arrears.
  9. Use the early stages of the Employment Tribunal process to your advantage: Usually the Employment Tribunal will list a Case Management Discussion to decide how your claim will progress. Ideally you should be represented at this Case Management Discussion. If not, you should prepare well for this. Be very clear about who your comparators are and whether you and your comparator do like work, work rated as equivalent, or work of equal value. Think about what pay information you need from your employer. Ask the Employment Tribunal to order “Material Factor” disclosure.
  10. Negotiating settlement: While clearly it is better to settle a claim in the early stages, it can be dangerous to do so before you know what your comparators actually earn. Pay disclosure is essential in any equal pay claim and it is quite possible that your employer might be hiding something if they want to settle early. For example, the generous “Christmas bonus” your comparator received last year, or the Company Car that your comparator has recently been given? Seek legal advice on the sum offered.

If you have any questions about equal pay issues, leave a comment below, or get in touch with Matthew at matthew@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

About the author

Matthew Grant

matthew-grant

I am a specialist employment lawyer based in our Brighton and Eastbourne offices. Over the past 8 years I have advised and litigated across the full range of employment issues with a particular specialism in discrimination and equal pay. Having trained as a barrister, I am able to represent clients at all stages in their case, including at trial. Within the community care team I deal with contractual disputes, I assist Professional Deputies with employment law issues, and I am able to advise on landlord and tenant disputes where required.

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