Equal Pay Act 1970
|Act of Parliament|
|Long title||An Act to prevent discrimination, as regards terms and conditions of employment, between men and women.|
|Citation||1970 c. 41|
|Territorial extent||England and Wales; Scotland|
|Royal assent||29 May 1970|
|Commencement||29 December 1975|
|Repealed||1 October 2010|
|Repealed by||Equality Act 2010|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
The Equal Pay Act 1970 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that prohibited any less favourable treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment. The Act was proposed by the then Labour government, and was based on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 of the United States. It has now been mostly superseded by Part 5, chapter 3, of the Equality Act 2010.
In the 1964 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 119 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.
Elements of a claim
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.
- UK employment discrimination law
- Equal Pay Act of 1963, the United States legislation which influenced the Act
- Equal pay for women
- Gender pay gap
- "Equal Pay Act 1970", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1970 c. 41
- Davis, Mary. "An Historical Introduction to the Campaign for Equal Pay".
- Harrison, Brian (2010). Finding a role?: the United Kingdom 1970-1990. p. 233.
- The Reunion (Radio). BBC Radio 4. 2003. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- "Equality Act an important milestone says Unite". Unite. 1 October 2010. Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
- "Equal pay heroes honoured". TUC. 5 June 2006. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012.
- Hastings, Sue (2006). "Women's Worth: the story of the Ford sewing machinists notes". Retrieved 20 October 2008.
- "Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (Rome, 25 March 1957)". CVCE.EU by UNI.LU. 11 September 2015.
- Brown, Muriel; Baldwin, Sally (1980). The year book of social policy in Britain. 1979. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. p. 74. ISBN 9780710006905.
- Conley, Hazel. "Trade unions, equal pay and the law in the UK." Economic and Industrial Democracy 35.2 (2014): 309–323.
- Deakin, Simon, et al. "Are litigation and collective bargaining complements or substitutes for achieving gender equality? A study of the British Equal Pay Act." Cambridge Journal of Economics 39.2 (2015): 381–403. online
- Dickens L . "The road is long: thirty years of equality legislation in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations (2007) vol. 45, 463–94.
- Gilbert, Kay. "Promises and practices: job evaluation and equal pay forty years on!." Industrial Relations Journal 43.2 (2012): 137–151.
- E McGaughey, A Casebook on Labour Law (Hart 2019) ch 1, 35
- Zabalza A. and Z. Tzannatos. Women and Equal Pay: The Effects of Legislation on Female Employment and Wages in Britain (Cambridge University Press, 1985).
- Image of the Act on the Parliamentary website
- Directive 97/80/EC, on the burden of proof in sex discrimination claims.
- Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community, whose Article 119 address equal pay between men and women. Article 13, introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997, is the basis for Directives 2000/78/EC and 2000/43/EC
- Equal Pay Act 1970 as amended by The Equal Pay Act 1970 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 SI 2003/1656
- Directive 2006/54/EC, on the equal treatment of men and women in employment regarding the definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and provisions on maternity. It comes fully into effect in August 2008, and just does a consolidating job and repeals a number of previous Directives, including 76/207/EEC and 2002/73/EC.