Equal pay

From today, employers who are found to have breached equal pay law will be ordered by the employment tribunal to carry out and publish equal pay audits.

In broad terms, breaches of equal pay law arise where men and women don’t receive equal pay for equal work.

An equal pay audit involves a systematic evaluation of an employer’s pay and reward systems. Any differences in pay, whether contractual or not, between women and men doing the same or equal work must be identified. The audit must include an action plan for eliminating any differences due to gender.

However, compulsory pay audits are not required for new businesses (less than 12 months trading), micro businesses (less than 10 employees), or where an employer has completed a valid audit in the last three years.

Further audits aren’t required where the equal pay breach appears to be an isolated issue, or it’s clear what, if any, action is required, or the disadvantages of an audit outweigh its benefits. This leaves employers plenty of wriggle room.

Furthermore, audits are limited to specified persons to be identified by the employment tribunal. A comprehensive and meaningful audit would ordinarily encompass the whole organisation. The restriction of compulsory audits to specified persons limits the burden on employers but materially limits their effectiveness.

Employers who fail to comply can be fined multiple penalties up to £5,000.

The government heralds compulsory equal pay audits as a tough new approach to tackling persistent pay inequality, but in the same breath estimates that only two or three business a year will be required to undertake them.

With equal pay claims down by 84%, compulsory equal pay audits are set to be all bark and no bite.

For more information, see The Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014.

Published by MacRoberts LLP © MacRoberts LLP 2014

Disclaimer The material contained in this e-update is of the nature of general comment only and does not give advice on any particular matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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Dress Code

ACAS ISSUES NEW GUIDANCE ON DRESS CODE by Macroberts Solicitors

This week, ACAS issued new guidance about employee dress codes which employers might find useful. The key principles laid down in the guidance include:

Employers must avoid unlawful discrimination in a dress code policy (for example religious dress should be approached sensitively)

  • Employers may use a dress code policy for health and safety reasons
  • Dress codes must ensure equality between men and women. However it is noted that there may be different requirements applicable to each
  • Employers must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people

When drafting a dress code policy, employers are encouraged to fully consider the reasoning behind the policy. ACAS also recommend consulting with employees about it in some cases. Having a clearly drafted policy can avoid inconsistent practices being applied across a business.

the detail can be found here http://www.acas.org.uk/dresscode

If you would like some help drafting a policy just ask! info@threedomsolutions.co.uk

Employment Tribunal Fees – update

Extracted below in full curtesy of

Lupton Fawcett Lee & Priestley

Last week we reminded practitioners that as from summer 2013, any Claimant that wished to bring proceedings in the Employment Tribunal would have to pay a fee to issue their claim and a further fee shortly before the hearing.  The precise date for implementation is yet to be decided but it is currently expected to apply from July 2013 onwards.  However, the Government had also indicated that there was to be a fee remission scheme put in place so that those on low income would not be required to have to meet such fees and thus would not be prevented from seeking access to justice.

The Government is currently consulting on how the scheme is to work.  It had been widely anticipated that it would be based on income so that those who had lost their jobs and thus had little or no income and were instead relying on benefits would be able to take advantage of the remission scheme.  The current scheme, run in the courts, requires the individual to provide proof of their financial eligibility in relation to their income only. However, in its latest consultation paper, it appears that the Government are considering basing the scheme not only on income but also on disposable capital and reviewing both the Claimant’s financial status and that of their partner.

This would mean that if someone had recently lost their job, but still had savings, investments or had recently received a redundancy payment, they would not be able to harness the benefits of the scheme and instead would be required to meet the fees out of their savings. If adopted, many individuals who find themselves out of work would not be able to claim fees exemption or a fee reduction under the scheme as, having only been made recently unemployed, they may well have investments and savings that they would be required to utilise to pay the fees concerned.  Accordingly, the number of people likely to be able to take advantage of the remission scheme is likely to be fewer than originally anticipated.

The current suggestion is that the disposable capital test will operate as follows:

  • there would be a fee remission of £1000 for applicants who have disposable capital (i.e. investments and savings) of not more than £3000.
  • Fee remission of between £1001 and £4000 for applicants with a disposable capital of no more than £8000
  • Fee remission of over £4000 for applicants with a disposable capital of no more than £16,000

Providing they fall within the criteria, their income will then be assessed to see whether they will be required to meet all, some or none of the fee.  Income will be based on household income, whether they are single or a couple and how many children they have living with them or that they pay maintenance for.

The introduction of a disposable capital test may well be of welcome benefit to employers who thought that the introduction of the new Tribunal fee system was somewhat of a damp squib in view of the fact that the majority of Claimants, who bring proceedings in the Tribunal, have lost their jobs and would thus have otherwise fallen under the fee remission scheme.  If introduced in its current form employees, already under financial strain having lost their job, will face further costs to pay and thus will need to be pretty certain of the merits of their claim in order to consider putting their hand in their pocket to issue a claim.

The result is that claims that are settled after proceedings have been issued will be more expensive to resolve as the Claimant will expect reimbursement of such costs when deciding whether or not to settle. It is also likely that the fees will become payable by the losing party so that in the event of a successful claim, the employer will be ordered to reimburse the Claimant for such fees.


Written by Angela Gorton of Lupton Fawcett Lee & Priestley  Solicitors

Did anyone read the Daily Mail’s article yesterday ?

It was headlined ‘What an insult to Christians! After crucifixes are allowed at work, human rights quango tells firms: Give vegans and pagans special treatment too’

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. The Equality and Human Rights Commission are hardly what I would call a quango and they have released some very thorough guidelines to try and help employers through this landmine of potential harassment and discrimination following recent case law.  Instead of picking up on the useful and the important The Mail has focused on vegans in leather chairs and Druids getting the Summer Solstice off.

#Sigh

There are so many other ‘protected’ characteristics mentioned in this advice, and many of them ones we would come across in our daily work life, it’s a shame they have been overlooked in the pursuit of a headline grabber .

Oh how this saddens me. A lost opportunity to actually share something of value.

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