New code of practice for equal pay

A revised Code of Practice on Equal Pay will come into force on 1 December after receiving Parliamentary approval.

The Code has been produced by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and explains employersÂ’ obligations on equal pay. It has been revised in the light of recent equal pay cases decisions and changes in legislation.

Aimed primarily at employers, it provides practical advice on how to avoid sex discrimination when deciding staff pay levels.

The revised edition includes new guidance on equal pay for pregnant women and those on maternity leave, grievance procedures and equal pay reviews.

While not legally binding, the Code is admissible in evidence in any legal proceedings and an employer’s compliance or non-compliance with it can be taken into consideration by a judge at an Employment Tribunal.

The Equal Pay Act gives both men and women the right to “equal pay for equal work”. An employer can only pay a women less than a man for doing equal work if there is a “genuine and material reason for doing so, not related to sex”.

While the Code refers to women being paid less than men, it is important to remember that the guidelines apply even if the situation is reversed. However, the EOC points out that women working full-time earn 18% less an hour than their male equivalents, while the difference rises to 40% for those working part-time.

Launching the revised Code, Julie Mellor, Chair of EOC, said: “It’s down to employers now to check that their pay system is fair and that they are complying with the Equal Pay Act. The revised Code of Practice will help them make sure that they are rewarding competence and performance.”

For more information on equal opportunities, visit www.eoc.org.uk or our Equal Opportunites section.

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