You should check the pay policies and practices that determine basic pay. Examples might be starting pay, service, pay progression, protection, market factors and so on.
These need to be checked from a variety of standpoints: the policies which apply to these elements of pay; how these are being applied in practice, and the statistical impact by gender, ethnicity and disability. It is how pay policies and practices actually affect pay that matters – not the intention behind them.
In practice, the most common explanations for significant pay gaps found in equal pay reviews tend to be one (or more, working in combination) of the factors listed below. There are links to more guidance and checklists on these. We suggest you check differences in average service first, as this is a common explanation for pay gaps.
Remember that the main focus of your equal pay review is on systemic inequalities in pay between groups (rather than pay differences between individuals). So, when looking for explanations for gaps, concentrate on those aspects of your pay policies and practices that affect, or have affected, groups - for example, pay protection. However, you will probably find you need to examine the pay of some individuals when drilling down for explanations for some pay gaps.
Pay protection, assimilation arrangements and progression are all ways in which past levels of pay, or ‘pay history’, can be imported into new pay and grading structures, resulting in continuing pay discrimination. The purpose of pay equality impact assessments in the public sector is to help prevent this. See Equality impact assessments for more details on this. But in practice, the current pay of many individuals and groups is heavily influenced by what they have been paid in the past.