Labour Research May 2002

Law Queries

Law Queries

* I work for a large supermarket that has recently been taken over. Existing staff have been allowed to retain their terms and conditions but new staff are being offered different terms which overall are less favourable. This year the company has awarded higher pay increases to the new staff compared to the increases being offered to the old staff. We believe that this is unfair and that we should all be able to get the same increase.

This type of "divide-and-rule" tactic is increasingly common, particularly following a transfer. Last year the government promised it would introduce a new law to prevent it, but six months later did a U-turn and said that restrictions on what employers can pay would be bad for business.

You may be able to use the Equal Pay Act 1970 if you can show that comparable employees of the opposite sex are being paid more than you are. And it does not matter if some of your terms are better. You can make the comparison on the basis of the terms that you think are less favourable. Your employer may be able to argue against an equal pay claim by saying that there were other reasons for the pay difference and that these were nothing to do with sex discrimination.

More information: LRD's new booklet, Winning equal pay(2002)