Why equal pay matters

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • employers

Which countries is it relevant to?

    • Great Britain

The right to equal pay between women and men for equal work was first protected by law in the Equal Pay Act 1970, and is now protected in the Equality Act 2010 (the Act). This legislation aims to create a fairer Britain, where all members of society are protected against discrimination at work and in their daily lives.

Under the Act, employers are responsible for providing equal pay to women and men for equal work. This means employers need to be confident that their pay systems put this obligation into practice and that they have minimised risks of an employee making an equal pay claim.

Read more about the value and benefits of achieving equal pay in your organisation in the following pages.

The importance of equal pay

It’s important to provide equal pay in order to comply with the law by identifying, explaining and eliminating unjustifiable pay gaps, and to and to contribute to a fairer society in which everyone has equal opportunities.

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The business case for equal pay

Providing equal pay reduces the risk of facing a costly equal pay claim. It also leads to higher productivity and morale, and improved employee recruitment and retention. 

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Why you must comply

As an employer, you are legally responsible for ensuring that your pay systems are free from sex discrimination.

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The equal pay provisions of the Equality Act

The law on equal pay is set out in the ‘equality of terms’ provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

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These pages focus on equal pay between women and men because the equal pay provisions of the Equality Act 2010 relate specifically to sex discrimination in pay.  However, pay systems may also be challenged under the Equality Act 2010 if they discriminate because of race, age or other protected characteristics.

Last updated: 19 Feb 2019

Contact Acas for further information

If you are involved in an employment dispute or are seeking information on employment rights and rules, you can contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas):

Visit the Acas website

Freephone: 0300 123 1100 (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm Saturday)

Text Relay service: 18001 0300 123 1100.