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The Equal Pay Act 1970 (‘the Act’) received Royal Assent on 29 May 1970 and came into force five years later.  It was subsequently repealed and replaced by the Equality Act 2010.  The Act established the legal principle that workers should receive equal pay for equal work and arose out of a strike by women at Ford’s Dagenham plant.  The strike was called in 1968 by female workers who were disgruntled about a pay structure that favoured male workers. Their action led to a meeting between strike leaders and the employment secretary who brokered a deal that included the conception of the new act.

The statistics reported by the Office of National Statistics show that the gender pay gap is declining slowly and that the gap in average pay for men and women working full-time stands at 13.1%.  The gap does however vary across age brackets and occupations.  Despite this decline, the Ministry of Justice’s Employment Tribunal statistics report an annual average of 29,000 equal pay claims since the financial year 2007/08, constituting 12% of all Employment Tribunal complaints.  This doesn’t take into account cases that do not proceed to a hearing due to strike out, settlement etc.  The statistics suggest that, despite the passing of 50 years, there is still some work for employers to do on reducing the gender pay gap and achieving the pay equality that was intended when the Act was passed.

For further details contact Elizabeth Judson https://www.dtmlegal.com/people/elizabeth-judson/or our Employment & HR Team.

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