Equal Pay claims centre around unequal treatment of male and female workers in relation to salaries, bonuses, benefits and pensions where the male and female counter parts carry out like work or work of equal value.
Where a worker claims to have suffered pay inequality for a reason other than their sex the appropriate claim would not be an equal pay claim but a discrimination claim under such other grounds as age, race, disability etc.
Both men and women are protected by the legislation against inequality in pay. Likewise the protection also applies to part time and full time workers and those working under a contract of apprenticeship.
Pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts are now unenforceable in certain circumstances. It is no longer possible for employers to prevent employees from discussing their terms and conditions in relation to pay with other colleagues (including ex employees and other third parties) if that disclosure is made or sought to establish whether or not there is a connection between pay and sex. This does not allow for an employee to breach confidentiality in discussing pay with a competitor if it is not for this purpose.
An employer is not required to provide equal pay and benefits where they can prove that the difference is due to a material factor (other than sex) providing that any material factor that leads to a disadvantage can be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
The law in relation to equal pay claims is complex and as workers who have suffered in equality can seek to recover the last 6 years worth of losses the damages can be substantial. Specialist legal advice should be sought at the earliest opportunity should an equal pay issue arise.