Equal Pay in Northern Ireland

Equal Pay in Northern Ireland

When it comes to the principle of equal pay, women and men are entitled to equal pay for doing equal work. This is embedded within domestic law. In Northern Ireland, this principle is outlined and implemented through three pieces of law. The law on equal pay may seem complicated, but the purpose is simple, and that’s to ensure equal pay for women and men, for doing equal work.

Equal Pay Legislation

The three pieces of law in which this principle is implemented is as the following:

  • The Pensions (NI) Order 1995 – This is a law that prohibits sex discrimination. This is in relation to employees’ access when it comes to pension schemes, and the way employees are treated under the rules of these schemes in place.
  • The Equal Pay Act (NI) 1970 – This requires employers to pay both men and women equal pay for equal work. It prohibits sex discrimination of any kind when it comes to the relationship between employees and their contractual pay. It’s also in respect of the terms and conditions of their employment with said employer.
  • The Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976 – This prohibits sex discrimination when it comes to the non-contractual entitlements to certain benefits.

In Northern Ireland, all workers have the right to equal pay, and should these rights be compromised in any way, then there may be legal consequences.

What Is The Sex Equality Clause?

Unless the employer can show there is a genuine material reason for the difference in pay between a man and woman in their employment, then it will be seen as discriminatory towards that individual. There are occasions where this may be warranted and it’s up to the employer to make this known if challenged.

When there is equal work involved then the law implies this sex equality clause automatically to a woman’s contract of employment. If the employer is paying the woman less favourably than that of their male counterpart, unless they explain a genuine reason, this clause takes effect.

Examples Of Pay Discrimination & What To Do When Discriminated Against

There are some examples of discrimination that are worth knowing. Direct discrimination is paying one gender more than the other for doing the same job, promoting someone due to their gender only. Indirect discrimination where, for example, employment sets a minimum height to discriminate against women in particular. There’s also more harmful discrimination like victimisation. This is where the employer will take unfair disciplinary action against you.

If you’re discriminated against or think you have been suffering from sex discrimination at work, you need to talk to your employer first. If necessary, you’ll want to put your complaint in writing. If they’re unable to help, then you’ll want to speak to a trades union official or take it further with legal aid. There’s also an industrial tribunal that you can explore that can award compensation for unlawful sex discrimination.

It’s always important to know your rights as an employee, so that you can try to ensure your employer is treating everyone equally regardless of their gender.

If you think you have been discriminated against in terms of pay, get in touch with our team of employment solicitors at H McPartland & Sons via our contact page.