The Equality Bill has completed its passage through the House of Commons and the committee stage in the House of Lords started on 11 January. The provisions of the Equal Pay Act are transposed largely unchanged into a section of the Bill called "equality of terms". However there are some new proposals relating to equal pay including the following:
- The Government has resisted pressure to allow hypothetical comparators in equal pay cases, but where a woman is paid less because of direct discrimination and there is no actual male comparator the Bill would make it possible to bring a sex discrimination claim instead.
- Employers will not be able to rely on pay secrecy clauses where they are used to prevent employees comparing pay to explore the possibility of an equal pay claim.
- Public sector organisations with over 150 employees will be required to publish statistics on their gender pay gap, probably from April 2011. In the private sector, similar obligations may be applied to employers with more than 250 employees, though not until 2013.
- The possibility of introducing representative actions in equal pay litigation has been canvassed, and the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester has tabled an amendment to allow this.
Assuming the Bill is not a casualty of an early general election, the majority of the new equal pay provisions are likely to come into force in October 2010.