Introduced in 1970, the Equal Pay Act prohibited the favourable treatment of men over women and prevents discrimination within employment of equal value.
The introduction of this act meant that employers had to give both men and women equal treatment and while the act suggests equal pay alone, it also covered holidays, pension rights, company perks and some bonuses.
The act allowed women to take their employers to a tribunal if they found that a male employer doing similar work was being paid more than them. However, the onus is on the individual woman to prove that her employer is acting unlawfully.
The Equal Pay Act was triggered by a strike at the Ford Dagenham plant in 1968. The strike centred around the female sewing machinists, who made seat covers for the plant’s cars. As part of a Ford re-grading initiative, the women were downgraded and paid less than the men doing similar jobs. The strike inspired the film and stage play, Made in Dagenham, chronicling the women’s story.
Most of the act has now been replicated in the Equality Act 2010.
To find out more about your rights and equal pay, please visit the Acas website.
Read the latest news stories on equal pay
Women work for free for the rest of the year from today because of substantial gap between the average pay of men and women. Speaking today on Equal Pay Day Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP), said that to close the gender pay gap it’s time to take a more integrated approach to ensure we don’t have to keep marking this “depressing day” every year.
The film and musical Made in Dagenham have made equal pay topical again. Made in Dagenham tells the story of female sewing machinists who went on strike because Ford categorised their jobs as less skilled than male jobs. The Labour government intervened. The women got higher pay rates and ultimately, in 1970, Barbara Castle persuaded Parliament to pass the Equal Pay Act.
Women in the UK have lower job security and greater pay inequality than those in other developed countries, research shows. They are also less likely to be in work than their counterparts in other OECD countries, according to the report by PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC).