| 1970 c. 41|
29 December 1975
| 29 May 1970|
| An Act to prevent discrimination, as regards terms and conditions of employment, between men and women.|
England and Wales; Scotland
The Equal Pay Act 1970 is an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament which prohibits any less favourable treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment. The Act has now been mostly superseded by Part 5, chapter 3, of the Equality Act 2010.
Equal Pay Act 1970 Wikipedia
In the 1959 General Election, the Labour Party's Manifesto had proposed a charter of rights including 'the right to equal pay for equal work'. September 1965 saw the Trades Union Congress resolving 'its support for the principles of equality of treatment and opportunity for women workers in industry, and calls upon the General Council to request the government to implement the promise of 'the right to equal pay for equal work' as set out in the Labour Party election manifesto'. However, there was no immediate action by either government or unions.
Brian Harrison says polls in 1968–69 showed public opinion was moving strongly in favour of equal pay for equal work; nearly three-quarters of those polled favoured the principle. A trigger cause for the introduction of the legislation was the 1968 Ford sewing machinists strike, though the legislation also paved the way for the UK's entry to the European Community, helping to bring it towards conformity with Article 141 of the Treaty of Rome, which says that 'each Member State shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value is applied.'. The Act came into force on 29 December 1975. The term pay is interpreted in a broad sense to include, on top of wages, things like holidays, pension rights, company perks and some kinds of bonuses. The legislation has been amended on a number of recent occasions to incorporate a simplified approach under European Union law that is common to all member states. The 1970 Act only dealt with equal pay for the same work but in 1975 the EU directive on Equal Pay was passed based on article 119.
In 1978, despite the passage of legislation to promote equal pay, women’s relative position in the UK was still worse than in Italy, France, Germany, or the Benelux countries in 1972.
The Equal Pay Act was repealed but its substantive provisions were replicated in the Equality Act 2010.
For an employee to claim under this Act they must prove one of the following:That the work done by the claimant is the same, or broadly the same, as the other employee.
That the work done by the claimant is of equal value (in terms of effort, skill, decision and similar demands) to that of the other employee.
That the work done by the claimant is rated (by a job evaluation study) the same as that of the other employee.
Once the employee has established that they are employed on 'equal work' with their comparator then they are entitled to 'equal pay' unless the employer proves that the difference in pay is genuinely due to a material factor which is not the difference in gender.
In 1999, trades unions negotiated Single Status job evaluation for local government, hoping that this would enforce the Equal Pay Act without needing to take numerous pay claims to industrial tribunal. Single Status was intended to establish whether jobs were of equal value, and bring in a pay model which would remove the need for equal pay claims. Jobs which had previously been classed as manual or administrative/clerical would be brought together under one pay scale and one set of terms and conditions.
The implementation of Single Status in local government led to many claims being brought by employees as they sought compensation for past pay disparity.Allonby v Accrington and Rossendale College  IRLR 224
Barber v Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance Group (C-262/88)  1 QB 344, definition of pay including occupational pension schemes
Hayward v Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Ltd (No 2)  AC 894, equality clause implication under EqPA 1970 s 1
Home Office v Bailey  IRLR 757, presumption of discrimination with a pay disparity
Strathclyde Regional Council v Wallace  1 WLR 259, purpose of legislation not fair wages
Shield v E Coomes Holding Ltd  1 WLR 1408, claimant must prove they are in like work to an actual comparator
Capper Pass Ltd v Lawton  QB 852, work must be 'of the same or a broadly similar nature'
Eaton Ltd v Nuttall  1 WLR 549, the work may be rated as equivalent under EqPA s 1(5) through a job evaluation scheme which is 'thorough in analysis and capable of impartial application'
Pickstone v Freemans plc  AC 66, a 'token man' defence does not defeat a claim
Macarthys Ltd v Smith (No 2)  QB 180, a predecessor is a valid comparator
Diocese of Hallam Trustee v Connaughton  ICR 860, a successor is a valid comparator
Leverton v Clywd County Council  AC 706, 'common terms and conditions' can include those under collective agreements
British Coal Corporation v Smith  ICR 515, terms and conditions must be 'substantially comparable' not identical
Lawrence v Regent Office Care Ltd  IRLR 822, contracting out, an associated employer and a 'single source' test under art 141 TEC
Ratcliffe v North Yorkshire County Council  ICR 833, contracting out
North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust v Potter  IRLR 176, 'single source' test
Defrenne v Sabena  ICR 547 (C-43/75), the 'same establishment or service' definition
Clay Cross (Quarry Services) Ltd v Fletcher  ICR 1, personal factors in the material difference defence
Rainey v Greater Glasgow Health Board  AC 224, labour scarcity or geographical factors in the defence
Enderby v Frenchay Health Authority  ICR 112 (C-127/92), defence through the 'state of the employment market' under the proportionality principle
Glasgow County Council v Marshall  ICR 196, under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 if no evidence of discrimination is found, a pay disparity need not be justified
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council v Bainbridge and Surtees v Middlesbrough Borough Council  EWCA Civ 885,  IRLR 776
GMB v Allen  EWCA Civ 810,  IRLR 690
Birmingham City Council v Abdulla, in which the Supreme Court said that employees can claim equal pay up to six years after leaving their job. Leading legal experts have suggested that this could open the floodgates of litigation, with the public sector bearing the brunt of the impact.