Equal Pay Issues - What Employers Should Be Doing

The BBC’s equal pay nightmare continues – following the outrage expressed during last summer over discrepancies in pay for male and female presenters, Carrie Gracie’s revelations about editorial staff leaves the broadcaster continuing to make headlines rather than simply reporting them.

So, what should employers be doing to avoid falling into the same trap?

1. Regularly review pay levels for men and women doing the same role. If there is a difference, review whether there is a justifiable reason for this. If not, take prompt action to remove the discrepancy. 

2. One commentator interviewed on Radio 4 suggested that part of the reason for the BBC discrepancies was that men are more likely to ask for a payrise than women. To overcome this, employers should look to have a regular pay review process that includes all employees, with payrises outside this process only granted in exceptional circumstances and for reasons the employer can justify. The pay review process can also be used as the time to address any anomalies.

3. Larger employers could also consider introducing some form of job evaluation process, to review the comparative value of roles across the organisation. Supermarket giant ASDA is currently facing a claim from workers (predominantly female) based in its stores that they should be paid similar rates to colleagues (predominantly male) in the distribution centres. A formal job evaluation process can help not just with identifying an appropriate pay level for individual roles but also introduce a degree of systematic fairness when looking at different roles across the organisation. 

The principles of the Equal Pay Act have been with us since 1970 but pay gaps between the sexes still remain in many sectors. With the deadline for Gender Pay Gap reports for larger employers now imminent and the publicity over the BBC, perhaps the aspirations of the Act are now coming closer to being fulfilled.

Lucy Pakes
HR Advisor
T: 01284 544210
E: lucy.pakes@ashtonslegal.co.uk