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As this is a legal obligation, each employee of organisations can be assured that they’re protected under these rules, which ensure that equal pay for equal valued work is respected and followed by the book. However, as much as a role that sex discrimination plays, it is not just sex which is protected. There is nine protected characteristics under the EA2010 under Section 4, which are; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

 

In this case study, of Joanna v SLM PLC, Joanna was working as a Field Sales Executive at
SLC Plc where her role was to sell telephone and internet solutions to
enterprises of a small-medium size. Within her organisation, Joanna had sales
targets to meet, like other members of her team, and she received commission
all depending on how much she sold. Ian – the comparator – joined SLM in the
same role as a Field Sales Executive, however after some time, Joanna came to
realise that despite him underperforming in sales, Ian was earning more money
than Joanna, of course making her suspicious. After coming to find that Ian’s
pay was £7,000 more than hers, Joanna felt that this was unfair due to her
being more experienced and having more responsibilities. In her search for
raising a complaint, she first approached her manager, Steve, to make numerous
informal complaints, however she was not taken seriously. Steve finally offered
her with a Business Manager role with a matched salary to Ian, but no more. As
well as this, Joanna was not offered any compensation for the discrepancy in
pay concerning herself and Ian.

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In a rather unfair turn in events for Joanna,
she had soon come to realise that the position she had been given had
unrealistic sales targets that required support from her team which she felt
was “insufficient” if she were to meet those higher targets. She felt
“short-changed” as a consequence of this move, and continued to pursue her
equal pay complaint. Joanna was then called into a board meeting where she was
told that there was no future for her at SLP and was handed a Settlement
Agreement – compromise agreement – that only mirrored her notice period, and
was then escorted from the premises. Joanna then consulted a solicitor’s firm
who advised her of the claims she’ll have been entitled to make including;
unfair dismissal, victimisation, sex discrimination and Equal Pay. From this,
her solicitors helped Joanna to make a grievance and outlined an employment
tribunal claim which argued that Joanna and her comparator (Ian) did “like
work” within the position of Field Sales Executive. Beyond this, the supposedly
progression to the Business Manager role was considered as victimisation to set
her up for failure. Joanna had managed to find another position with a higher
salary elsewhere 3 months following her dismissal which cut off her claim for
on-going loss of remunerations. To avoid the cost of the three-day hearing that
Joanna would’ve had to pay, her solicitors suggested to SLM Plc and the
Employment Tribunal that Judicial Mediation would be an effective way to
achieve fair settlement. As a result, a one day Judicial Mediation hearing allowed
for the two parties to come to a settlement sum based upon; The differences
between Joanna and her comparator Ian over a 2-year period and commission she had lost out
on due to having unrealistic goals. With
concern and a raise under the ACAS Code, due to the company not going through a
fair dismissal procedure, Joanna managed to recover £20,000 for her claim of
Equal Pay.

 

This is
a claim triumph for equality and a great example of how, when someone is done
wrong, the judicial system can help to improve and enhance the betterment of
someone’s mistreatment via sex discrimination and victimisation. Ian was
clearly in no higher position of higher knowledge, skill or aptitude that
Joanna was, and therefore no genuine reason for Ian to be earning £7,000 could
be established by the employment tribunal hearing. Especially considering that
Ian was underperforming, whereas Joanna was a consistent employee who had been
meeting her targets. The existing enforcement procedures gave an effective
remedy for Joanna in her case of equal pay/sex discrimination, and goes to show
that the proficiency and elasticity of the EA2010 is a lasting one. By the
inclusion of the task for companies to eliminate discrimination, harassment and
victimisation, protect the protected characteristics and advance equality of
opportunity between individuals who share these characteristics and who do not.

47 years after the introduction of the Equal
Pay act, it seems like we haven’t progressed much since its insertion. However,
with the inclusion of Section 78 of the EA2o10, the requirement for employers
to publish their information relating to the pay of their employees, as well as
male to female ratios etc, will only add to the betterment and improvement
equality in the workplace. Come April 2018, businesses will be able to show
what they’re made of, giving them chance to show not only a diverse workforce, but
an equal one where each employee is valued, no matter age, sex, preferences or
beliefs. Hopefully it will not only add to improving equality, but productivity
of female employees who feel that they are treated as equals. Section 78 is an
example of the progression we’ve made as a society, coming from a time where
the female role was house bound, and equality was not prevalent. The contextual
narrative that’s being played out with these very steps, radiate in great steps
in the right direction. I truly believe that within my lifetime, and those of
my classmate, that the gender pay gap will eventually become non-existent due
to the progressive and intuitive nature of our generation.

 

Though it sounds perfect, the EA2010 doesn’t
come without its flaws. For example, within disability discrimination, many of
those who suffer from this do not have adequate support when they are out in
shops and in general transport. Most shops now have the functionalities and
support required for disabled customers. However, there are cases in which
customers don’t have the support or space available. A mother and her disabled
child was unable to change her disabled child in the John Lewis’ toilets.

Campaigners want to change this, where some cases are so extreme that mothers are
having to change their children’s nappies on the floors of these toilets due to
the lack of accessibility. It really does set back all the progression we’ve
seemly made to not discriminate, but when retail giants such as John Lewis
spend millions upon millions of pounds on Christmas adverts, and not
facilitating mothers and disabled customers, it really does show their
priorities are not straight. The frustration is so high between customers, that
they’ve publicly called them out on numerous news sources and on social media
websites. It really is a shame as the advancements we’ve made to accommodate
all manors of people, be brought back down to earth by the corporations who
spend millions inducing customers, however fail to facilitate to the very
audience they publicise to.

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