Theresa Carling at Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors

Member Article

Show me your money!

A specialist in employment law has called on private sector employers to carry out an equal pay audit on their business – before they have to justify pay levels in the courts.

Theresa Carling, employment law specialist with Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors, said: “The public sector has faced numerous equal pay claims, and paid out millions in compensation and legal fees. It is only a matter of time before private sector employers face scrutiny too.

“The current economic crisis could be the catalyst. With the increased cost of living and a freeze on salaries, staff may begin to compare salary levels. The employer must be able to justify any differentials between people who do the same work.”

Ms Carling recommended that employers conduct an equal pay audit to establish that all people doing the same job receive the same pay. Any differences in pay need to be justifiable. She warned that successful claimants can claim for up to six years back pay, including additional interest.

She added: “The Equal Pay act was introduced in 1970. In the subsequent years, the gender gap has narrowed but there is still plenty of evidence to show that men are generally paid higher wages than women, results fuelled to a large extent by the private sector.

“The North East is renowned as a hotbed for equal pay claims. Regional firms have targeted public sector employees to bring equal pay claims. As those cases and their appeals are settled and awards are paid out, the same firms are likely to turn their attention to the private sector and encourage employees to actively look for discrepancies in pay levels.”

Theresa’s comments come in the wake of a Channel 4 programme, Show Me Your Money, where the staff of a London plumbing firm were challenged to tell each other how much they earn. The programme unearthed issues of unjustifiable inequality in pay, which needed to be, and was, addressed.

Theresa concluded: “The private sector does not operate with established pay bands. Instead there has always been a veil of secrecy around wages. Private sector employers should act now and demonstrate that they are aware of the law and that they are confident that their pay structure is absolutely fair.”

Theresa Carling and Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors’ Employment Law Team can be contacted by calling 01740 646000.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors is the Tees Valley’s largest full service law firm with offices in Wynyard Park, Stockton on Tees, Hartlepool and Barnard Castle. It has a multi-disciplinary business law team, based at Wynyard Park, offering expertise in fields including commercial property, mergers acquisitions and disposals, intellectual property, employment and dispute resolution. For further advice, contact Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors on 01740 646000.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Emma Hignett, i2i Business Solutions .

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