Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Keeping mum - The equality act, equal pay and gagging clauses

During my employment law lecture last night a piece of the 2010 equality act was discussed which I was surprised I had heard so little about. Since October 2010 clauses in an employment contract which seek to prevent employees from discussing how much they are paid with one another are no longer enforceable. This makes absolute sense if you think about it. If one of the aims of the equality act is to prevent inequality in pay based upon sex, then how can that possibly be enforced if employees are prevented from discussing their pay with colleagues? It is quite easy for a firm to get away with inequality in remuneration if no-one is allowed to discuss what they are getting paid.

What really surprised me was how many people piped up that they had such a clause in their contract, or that they had been told "off the record" that it was forbidden to discuss salaries within the workplace. Many of these people are currently working within law firms. The vast majority of these people had no idea that this change in the law had occurred as it has gone largely unreported. 

To mark International Women's Day why not make a point of passing this little nugget of information around? If we are ever likely to achieve equal pay for women in the workplace surely we must first achieve transparency on pay.

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