Equal Pay Act 1970

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1970 c. 41


Equal Pay Act 1970

1970 CHAPTER 41

An Act to prevent discrimination, as regards terms and conditions of employment, between men and women.

[29th May 1970]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

S-1 Requirement of equal treatment for men and women in same employment.

1 Requirement of equal treatment for men and women in same employment.

(1) The provisions of this section shall have effect with a view to securing that employers give equal treatment as regards terms and conditions of employment to men and to women, that is to say that (subject to the provisions of this section and of section 6 below)—

(a ) for men and women employed on like work the terms and conditions of one sex are not in any respect less favourable than those of the other; and

(b ) for men and women employed on work rated as equivalent (within the meaning of subsection (5) below) the terms and conditions of one sex are not less favourable than those of the other in any respect in which the terms and conditions of both are determined by the rating of their work.

The following provisions of this section and section 2 below are framed with reference to women and their treatment relative to men, but are to be read as applying equally in a converse case to men and their treatment relative to women.

(2) It shall be a term of the contract under which a woman is employed at an establishment in Great Britain that she shall be given equal treatment with men in the same employment, that is to say men employed by her employer or any associated employer at the same establishment or at establishments in Great Britain which include that one and at which common terms and conditions of employment are observed either generally or for employees of the relevant classes.

(3) Where a woman is employed at an establishment in Great Britain otherwise than under a contract which includes (directly or by reference to a collective agreement or otherwise) a term satisfying subsection (2) above, the terms and conditions of her employment shall include an implied term giving effect to that subsection.

(4) A woman is to be regarded as employed on like work with men if, but only if, her work and theirs is of the same or a broadly similar nature, and the differences (if any) between the things she does and the things they do are not of practical importance in relation to terms and conditions of employment; and accordingly in comparing her work with theirs regard shall be had to the frequency or otherwise with which any such differences occur in practice as well as to the nature and extent of the differences.

(5) A woman is to be regarded as employed on work rated as equivalent with that of any men if, but only if, her job and their job have been given an equal value, in terms of the demand made on a worker under various headings (for instance effort, skill, decision), on a study undertaken with a view to evaluating in those terms the jobs to be done by all or any of the employees in an undertaking or group of undertakings, or would have been given an equal value but for the evaluation being made on a system setting different values for men and women on the same demand under any heading.

(6) Subject to the following subsections, for purposes of this section—

(a ) ‘employed’ means employed under a contract of service or of apprenticeship or a contract personally to execute any work or labour, and related expressions shall be construed accordingly;

(b ) a person is to be regarded as employed at an establishment if he is employed to work in the establishment or, in the case of a person employed to work otherwise than in an establishment, if his employment is carried out from the establishment;

(c ) two employers are to be treated as associated if one is a company of which the other (directly or indirectly) has control or if both are companies of which a third person (directly or indirectly) has control.

(7) A person is not to be regarded for purposes of this section as employed at an establishment in Great Britain if his employment is wholly or mainly outside Great Britain; but—

(a ) employment on aircraft or hovercraft registered in Great Britain shall not be regarded as employment outside Great Britain, unless it is wholly outside Great Britain;

(b ) persons employed to work on board a ship registered in Great Britain, unless the employment is wholly outside Great Britain, are to be regarded as employed at an establishment in Great Britain, and the ship shall be deemed to be the establishment.

(8) This section shall apply to persons employed under or for purposes of a Minister of the Crown or government department, otherwise than as members of the naval, military or air forces of the Crown or of any women's service administered by the Defence Council, as it would apply if they were employed by a private person.

S-2 Disputes as to, and enforcement of, requirement of equal treatment.

2 Disputes as to, and enforcement of, requirement of equal treatment.

(1) Any claim in respect of the operation of a term included in a woman's contract of employment or implied in her terms and conditions of employment as mentioned in section 1(3) above (in this section referred to as an ‘equal pay clause’), including a claim for arrears of remuneration or damages in respect of a failure to comply with an equal pay clause, may be referred to and determined by an industrial tribunal, and may be so referred either by the person making the claim or by the person against whom it is made.

(2) Where it appears to the Secretary of State that there may be a question whether the employer of any women is or has been failing to comply with their equal pay clauses, but that it is not reasonable to expect them to take steps to have the question determined, the question may be referred by him to an industrial tribunal and shall be dealt with as if the reference were of a claim by the women against the employer.

(3) Where it appears to the court in which any proceedings are pending that a claim or counter-claim in respect of the operation of an equal pay clause could more conveniently be disposed of separately by an industrial tribunal, the court may direct that the claim or counterclaim shall be struck out; and (without prejudice to the foregoing) where in proceedings before any court a question arises as to the operation of an equal pay clause, the court may on the application of any party to the proceedings or otherwise refer that question, or direct it to be referred by a party to the proceedings, to an industrial tribunal for determination by the tribunal, and may stay or sist the proceedings in the meantime.

(4) No claim in respect of the operation of an equal pay clause relating to a woman's employment shall be referred to an industrial tribunal otherwise than by virtue of subsection (3) above, if she has not been employed in the employment within the six months preceding the date of the reference.

(5) A woman shall not be entitled, in proceedings brought in respect of a failure to comply with an equal pay clause (including proceedings before an industrial tribunal), to be awarded any payment by way of arrears of remuneration or damages in respect of a time earlier than two years before the date on which the proceedings were instituted.

(6) Where a woman ought to be or to have been given equal treatment with a man as required by her equal pay clause, and he enjoys or has enjoyed by comparison with her any greater remuneration or other advantage, then it shall be for the woman's employer to show that this advantage is not the result of his terms and conditions of employment being in any respect more favourable than hers, but is genuinely due to a material difference (other than the difference of sex) between her case and his.

(7) In this section ‘industrial tribunal’ means a tribunal established under section 12 of the Industrial Training Act 1964 ; and there shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament any additional amounts which by virtue of this section are so payable under section 12(3) of that Act, as amended by section 46(5) of the Redundancy Payments Act 1965 .

S-3 Collective agreements and pay structures.

3 Collective agreements and pay structures.

(1) Where a collective agreement made before or after the commencement of this Act contains any provision applying specifically to men only or to women only, the agreement may be referred, by any party to it or by the Secretary of State, to the Industrial Court constituted under Part I of the Industrial Courts Act 1919...

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