Tessa Jowell is urging the Chairman of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club Committee to play fair when it comes to equal pay for equal play. With a discrepancy across the total prize money available for Wimbledon of £750,000 as between men and women, its no surprise that the Tournament is in danger of falling behind the times. But its not just sporting events that are coming under greater scrutiny when it comes to narrowing the gender pay divide. Several high profile city cases and collective claims against various public authorities have raised public awareness over this issue. As a result employers are coming under the spotlight from disgruntled staff.
 
Men or women who suspect that they may not be receiving the same pay or benefits as an employee of the opposite sex, despite performing equal work, may now serve their employer with an equal pay questionnaire. The questionnaire allows the employee to ask their employer questions in order to help the employee decide whether they have a potential claim. Although employers are not legally obliged to answer the questionnaire, failure to do so without good reason would allow a tribunal to draw an adverse inference in any future proceedings.
 
In order to succeed with an equal pay claim an employee would need to demonstrate that a person of the opposite sex (a comparator) is paid more for performing equal work. Equal work means the same or a similar role, or work that has been rated as equivalent under a job evaluation study, or work of equal value in terms of the demands made on the employee. The principle of equal pay applies to the provision of benefits as well as to basic salary.
 
Once it is established that the comparator is performing equal work then in order to defend a claim, an employer would need to demonstrate that the difference in pay is genuinely due to a factor other than the person's sex. For example the difference could be due to geographical location. If the factor is potentially indirectly discriminatory  (i.e. the factor applies to everyone but is likely to have an adverse effect on employees of a particular sex) then the employer must also show that the factor is objectively justified i.e. there is a sound business objective to be met.
 
The time limits for bringing a claim are more generous than for other types of tribunal claim. The claim can be brought at any time when the employee is still doing the job to which the claim relates or within 6 months of the employee leaving that job.
 
Currently the gender pay gap in Britain is estimated at 13%  (based on the median for full-time hourly earnings). Employers are coming under increasing pressure to close this pay gap and many are voluntarily seeking to do so by utilising an Equal Pay Audit. There is no doubt that Employers who wish to attract the most talented and skilled candidates will need to be able to demonstrate fair and transparent pay and rewards for all. 

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