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One-third of employees are unaware that pay discrimination is illegal

Equal pay

The somewhat shocking statistics are revealed in a survey nearly 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was introduced.

A study carried out by the Fawcett Society reveals that one in three men (35 per cent) and women (33 per cent) are not aware that pay discrimination in the workplace is illegal, reports HR Magazine.

The research, which surveyed more than 1,000 individuals, highlighted that 61 per cent of workers confessed that they would feel uncomfortable asking a colleague how much they earn, while 52 per cent said their managers would respond negatively to opening up the topic.

Furthermore, 31 per cent of workers believe their contracts ban people from talking to each other about pay, despite this being legally unenforceable. The survey concludes that men (38 per cent) over women (26 per cent) are more likely to think that person does not have the legal right to ask their colleagues how much they are paid.

The law, which is detailed on the website states: “It is against the law to treat someone less favourably than someone else because of a personal characteristic such as religion, sex, gender reassignment or age.

Discrimination can include:

  • not hiring someone
  • selecting a particular person for redundancy
  • paying someone less than another worker without good reason

You can discriminate against someone even if you do not intend to. For example, you can discriminate indirectly by offering working conditions or rules that disadvantage one group of people more than another.”

In response to the findings, the Fawcett Society has collaborated with employment law charity YESS Law to launch a new Equal Pay Advice Service, bankrolled by an Equal Pay Fund that came from a donation of backdated pay from former BBC china editor Carrie Gracie. The service will offer those on low incomes who believe they are experiencing pay discrimination to have access to legal advice.