Equal pay claims against local government and the NHS (large public sector employers) have dominated the headlines for a long time. The basis of these claims was that women who were doing like work to male colleagues were paid less. As the roles were similar, the only reason for the difference in pay appeared to be gender. This could amount to unlawful discrimination.

There is now a recognition that this does not just happen in the public sector. A test case has been launched against a large supermarket chain to consider whether they have, in fact, been discriminating against female employees who work in store by paying them less than men who work in the warehouse, because the roles are similar but the wages are not. This is due to be heard by the Employment Tribunal in the next few months.

If successful, it is possible that this may open up claims against other private sector employers, particularly other supermarkets. If you work in the private sector and feel that you are paid less because of your gender then you may be entitled to back pay.

It is important to note that the time limit to bring this type of claim is 6 months less 1 day from any change in your employment or from leaving your employment (whichever is the earlier). Your time limit may already have started to run, and if this is the case you would need to submit a claim to the Tribunal to protect your position, which Beecham Peacock is able to assist with. This would then be put on hold pending the outcome of the above test case. Alternatively, if it is more than 6 months since you left employment you may be able to pursue a claim in the county court, where the time limit is 6 years.

If you believe that you may have been paid less than your colleagues for a discriminatory reason, or have any queries regarding this or any other employment matter, please contact the employment team at Newcastle Solicitors Beecham Peacock LLP on 0191 2323048.

Anna Hawksworth


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