Sex discrimination

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of his or her sex.

The act protects all employees and workers, both men and women, and covers all types of organisations in the UK. It covers: recruitment, employment terms and conditions, pay and benefits, training, promotion and transfer opportunities, redundancy and dismissal.

It renders unlawful the equal application of a criterion, practice or benefit to men and women that unnecessarily put one sex at a disadvantage. This is ‘indirect sex discrimination’. Also, employers must not discriminate as a result of marriage, civil partnership, pregnancy, maternity, or because an employee intends to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment.

Pay should, typically, be the same for workers of one gender as it is for the other. This applies if an employee is doing work that is similar to others, if a formal evaluation concludes that work an employee does is similar to others or if an employee’s work is of equal value compared to others.

Furthermore, an employer cannot keep pay arrangements secret in order to hide gross gender inequalities in his or her organisation. The law, though, recognises genuine reasons that can explain unequal pay.