The law on equal pay in the UK was introduced by the Equal Pay Act 1970. It is now contained within the Equality Act 2010 which provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. It prohibits discrimination against those with protected characteristics.
The law on equal pay requires that both men and women receive the same level of pay as employees of the opposite sex who are performing the same work or work assessed as being of equal value as determined by an analytical job evaluation scheme which looks at the skills and requirements of the job. Any differences in pay must be for a genuine and material reason, which is not the difference of sex.
The statutory code of practice on equal pay recommends that the most effective way of establishing whether pay policies and systems are discriminatory is to undertake an equal pay audit.
The University’s audits are conducted in line with the Equality and Human Rights Commission guidelines and provide an analysis of basic pay and total pay by legal sex (and for the main salary and grading structure ethnicity, disability and contractual status). In accordance with the guidelines, gaps of 5% or more are considered significant and have been used to identify actions to be taken.
Equal pay audits at the University
The University has conducted equal pay audits both for its main salary and grading structure and for senior staff since 2009, and these are conducted every 3 years. The University is committed to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value for all employees. The most recent equal pay audits were conducted in 2019/20.
The results of the 2019 equal pay audit of the main salary and grading structure indicated that in broad terms the University is achieving equal pay for work of equal value. Relatively few pay gaps were identified in the analysis of mean basic and total pay by legal sex and where further investigation was carried out an objective justification has been found. Pay gaps in total pay were identified in the 2019 equal pay audit for senior staff.
The pay gaps tend to arise from differences in the distribution of additional pay elements such as professorial distinction and NHS clinical excellence awards. There are well-defined and objective processes for the award of additional pay elements. In many cases, the additional pay elements reflect the external market, as well as recruitment and retention imperatives.