- like work to that of a man,
- work rated as equivalent to that of a man, or
- work of equal value to that of a man.
Whether the work is sufficiently similar is looked at in broad general terms rather than by a minute examination of the tasks involved.
Whether there are significant differences depends on the nature and extent of the differences, how often they occur in practice and whether they are of practical importance in relation to the terms and conditions of employment.
A valid JES must be analytical and comply with s.1(6) of the Equal Pay Act.
If the claimant succeeds in establishing work rated as equivalent, the tribunal then considers the employer´s defence.
Equal value involves a comparison of the work of the claimant and the comparator under various headings such as effort, skill and decision.
Equal value claims can be made using comparators paid under different grading systems, collective agreements or job evaluation schemes.
The tribunal will normally appoint an independent expert to evaluate the jobs and to prepare a report for the hearing.
The Act applies equally to men and women of all ages and its purpose is to eliminate discrimination between men and women in pay and other terms of their contracts of employment such as pensions, performance related pay, concessionary travel, share options and holiday pay/leave entitlement. In practice, any term which is in the man´s contract but missing from the woman´s is to be treated as if it is in her contract. In addition any term in the woman´s contract which is less favourable to her than the same term in the man´s contract is to him, is improved so that they are equal.
The Equal Pay Act applies to:
- all employees (including apprentices and those working from home) whether on full-time, part-time, casual or temporary contracts, regardless of length of service;
- other workers (e.g. self-employed contractors) whose contracts require personal performance of the work;
- employment carried out on ships registered in Northern Ireland or on aircraft registered in the United Kingdom operated by someone based in Northern Ireland unless the employee works wholly outside Northern Ireland;
- employees who do their work wholly or partly in Northern Ireland; or
- do work wholly outside Northern Ireland and:
- the employer has a place of business at an establishment in Northern Ireland;
- the work is for the purposes of the business carried on at the establishment; and
- the employee is ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland at the time when s/he applies for or is offered the employment or at any time during the course of the employment.
More detailed guidance on the equal pay legislation as it applies in Great Britain can be found on the Equal Opportunities Commission website.
Claims brought under the Equal Pay Act are dealt with by an industrial tribunal and generally must be lodged either while the complainant is still in the job to which the claim relates or within six months of leaving that job.
Where an industrial tribunal finds in favour of a complainant who has brought an equal pay complaint, arrears of pay may be claimed for up to six years before the date on which the claim was lodged with the industrial tribunal.
In industrial tribunal proceedings, each party will normally pay its own costs although the tribunal may award costs against either party in certain circumstances - for example, if a case is conducted in an unreasonable way by acting vexatiously, abusively or disruptively or if a complainant brings a case which is misconceived. The maximum costs the tribunal can award against a party are £10,000. In practice awards of costs are much lower than this and the tribunal will take into account the claimant’s ability to pay.
There is a right of appeal on a point of law to the Court of Appeal against a decision of an industrial tribunal.