My male colleague is more highly paid than me. What action can I take?

02 January 2013

Many find themselves the victim of unequal pay arrangements when colleagues of the opposite sex are paid more. Worthingtons Solicitors discuss when action may be taken.

Equal pay arrangements have come a long way in modern times and there are now various mechanisms put in place to ensure men and women are treated equally and fairly when it comes to pay.

However, certain circumstances remain where the gender pay gap is still evident and it is important to note what action is available to you. If you feel that you are a victim of unequal pay, it is possible to take action under the Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 as amended. Under this legislation, a person can make an unequal pay claim where they are being treated unequally compared to someone of the opposite sex. It applies to those who are doing work that is considered equal, i.e. work rated as equivalent, considered ‘like work’ or work of equal value.

This provides a wide range of situations by which one can make a claim as you do not have to be doing a job that is the exact equivalent of your male comparator in order to pursue legal action.

An equal pay action allows you to make a claim with regard to the amount that the comparator is being paid and a successful case will result in some degree of compensation. However, it is perhaps important to note that a claim will not always be successful as there may be a justified reason for the male equivalent to be receiving a higher rate of pay, known as a ‘genuine material factor.’

This will include considerations such as the length of service of an employee, extra pay for academic qualifications or general market forces at point of recruitment.

Should you have any queries in relation to this article, please submit your query in the form below and a member of our Employment law team will contact you to discuss. 

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