Equal Pay – Outlook for 2016

Equal Pay – Outlook for 2016

  • Date: Thursday 7th January 2016

With two high profile tribunal cases expected to be heard in 2016, pay gaps and gender pay reporting are firmly on the HR agenda for this year.

In the first case, Bierley and others vs Asda Stores, a mixed group of male and female employees are seeking to achieve equal pay for ‘work of equal value’, comparing jobs across not only stores but also distribution centres. The case has been ongoing since 2008 but is due to go to trial this year.

Sainsbury’s are also in the firing line, defending a gender related equal pay claim that could potentially open the doors to claims of thousands of women, accusing the chain of paying more to male counterparts in comparable positions. At a preliminary hearing in July 2015, Sainsbury’s requested a delay until the Asda case has been heard, but this request was denied.

Considering the magnitude of potential historical pay-outs as a result of cases like these, the government announced plans to introduce gender pay reporting for larger employers in 2016. In an effort to create a more transparent pay and bonus awards environment, organisations with more than 250 employees will now have to conduct an equal pay audit and publish the details. The legislation is still due to be finalised but in preparation employers are urged to be proactive:

-       Determine ‘jobs of equal value’

In order to identify jobs that should attract equal pay, employers need to go through a job evaluation that rates roles according to criteria such as level of authority, level of responsibility, technical skills and qualifications.

-       Identify gaps and causes

Causes for pay gaps can be manifold and reach from length of service to part time/full time appointments. Identifying reasons for inconsistencies can create a clearer picture of potential areas for discrimination, since these are often not obviously visible.

-       Develop an action plan

Gaps need to be addressed appropriately and procedures need to be implemented to monitor, adjust and/or avoid future occurrences. Adjustments may include red-circling of salaries, increases or reductions, which will make it necessary to consult and negotiate with employees.

Even though equal pay reporting only applies to larger employers, every organisation has a duty not to discriminate when it comes to rewards and benefits. Therefore, following the above steps will help avoid hot water for smaller organisations as well as large corporations.


If you could benefit from some advice on this or any other HR issues, please contact our HR Team to discuss SSG’s ADVISOR scheme.


Source: Manuela Grossmann - SSG

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