Equal Pay Discussions
The Equality Act of 2010 firmly protects employees’ rights within the workplace in relation to pay. It strongly prohibits any type of contractual provisions that would seek to restrict an employee from disclosing their salary or requesting information about another colleague’s wages; as this could indicate a correlation between having/not having a certain protected characteristic (eg sex, race) and earning potential. Beyond safeguarding basic disclosure, it also provides redress for those who suffer victimisation due to making relevant pay inquiries.
Having a pay secrecy clause in an employment contract may be commonplace, but employers should exercise caution. If employees are discussing their wages to investigate potential discrimination based on protected characteristics: such as gender, race or disability – then the clause’s enforceability and disciplinary action against those involved is unlawful victimisation.
When examining a situation leading to potential disciplinary action, it is essential for employers to be aware of the fine line between relevant pay disclosures and those that are not. Looking at the facts, such as who was involved in any given discussion about pay, what words were said, by whom under what circumstances should all be taken into account before forming your opinion. Contractual clauses enforcing secrecy will likely lack validity when an employee looks at their own or another’s salary for the purposes of discovering whether discrimination is taking place.