Q&A - Can I make an equal pay claim against employer if male colleague earns more?

Q:    I work as a (female) line supervisor and have discovered that a male colleague who does the same job as me is on a higher pay rate. He is roughly the same age as me and has been with the firm only a year longer than me. I have spoken to my department manager, but he said he couldn’t discuss another worker’s pay with me. Could I go to a tribunal and make a claim for equal pay?

A:    Unless there is a secrecy clause written into their contracts employers cannot refuse to discuss workers’ pay using the excuse of ‘confidentiality’. You should ask for a formal meeting, either with the HR manager if the firm has one, or else with your line manager. If you wish to, you can take someone to that meeting with you who can listen and make notes.

It is important that you ask in the meeting why your male colleague is being paid more than you, as there could be a valid reason. If your employer does come up with a reason for the disparity, they will need to prove its validity. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, you could look at going to an employment tribunal. However, prior to doing that you must first go through your employer’s formal grievance procedure, a copy of which you should have been given at the start of your employment.

There are two possible elements to an equal pay claim – equal pay and discrimination. An equal pay claim can be made to a tribunal whilst you are still working in the job, or within six months of leaving it. If you bring a discrimination case, you must do so within three months of the alleged act of discrimination taking place. A local employment lawyer would be able to advise you on your best course of action and also represent you at a tribunal.

Article 09/09/2021

This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

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James Denton

James Denton


Solicitor in our Civil Litigation team in the Oswestry and Wrexham offices.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham