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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45378
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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i started my job at my current workplace as an apprentice electrician

Resolved Question:

i started my job at my current workplace as an apprentice electrician in 2006 and finished the electrical course in 2009 and was ttherefore qualified as a fully qualified electrician. for the past 4 and a half years the company have kept me on and been continuing to pay me as an apprentice but my boss has had me doing work which is different to the job role since i qualified. 4 years ago during a meeting he told me he was going to change my job role to cover the work he was now asking me to do. i went through the job evaluation process as the job i now do is not covered by any current or previous employees job rule. yesturday i was given a letter including new salary and date of which they were going to back pay (October 1st 2013)
i feel the salary is too low for what i do compared to other jobs in the company and i also feel the back pay should be for when i was first told that my job role would be updated to cover what my new job roles were and my other query is if i became fully qualified, should they still have been paying me as an apprentice for those 4 and a half years after. I would like to know how i stand legally, whether i have any legal rights due to the circumstances i have mentioned as i do not know whether i have been treated fairly or legally.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

How much have you been getting paid per hour for the last 4 years?

Customer:

my salary has been just under £13k a year

Ben Jones :

and you work full time? how many hours a week?

Customer:

i work full time which is 37 hours a week

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

Once you finished your apprenticeship and became a permanent employee, it would have been for you and the employer to agree on an appropriate salary on which to continue. It is not illegal to have kept your apprentice pay as long as you were being paid at least the national Minimum Wage applicable at the time. If you were on around £13k a year and working full time (~7.5h a day), then your hourly rate would be in the region of £6.50, which would have kept you above the minimum wage and would be legal. Unfortunately the law does not provide that you should be paid a specific rate for doing more complex work, different work to that in your contract or even if others doing the same work as you are getting paid more.


 


If you were going to be able to claim a higher rate for the last 4 years then it should have been agreed specifically with the employer at the time. Whilst the employer can backdate the increased pay as far back as they want, this is going to be left entirely at their discretion and in the absence of a formal agreement in the past, you cannot claim back pay.


 


When it comes to equal pay and getting paid the same as what others doing the same job get, the law on that is frequently misunderstood. Many workers believe that there is a right to equal pay across the workforce, especially for workers that perform the same or similar jobs.


 


However, the reality is that employers are free to pay their employees whatever they want, as long as it is above the current National Minimum Wage and in accordance with the employee's contract of employment. It is not generally unlawful to pay employees doing the same or similar jobs different rates. The only time this would be an issue is if the reasons for the difference in pay is discriminatory, due to a difference in gender. The relevant law was originally brought in to deal with the fact that many women were being paid less than their male colleagues for doing the same job.


 


Whilst this protection still applies, to be successful in a claim you must show that the reason for being paid less is actually gender-related. It is no good claiming that you are being paid less than someone else, unless it can be shown that the reasons for this difference in pay is due to gender.

Customer:

Ok thank you Ben for your advice, not the answer i was hoping to get but i guess thats just the way it goes sometimes.

Ben Jones :

Yes I understand it was probably not going to be what you wanted to hear but I obviously have to be honest in my advice but at least I hope it clarifies your position

Customer:

Yes, atleast i know where i stand and dont go into any meeting demanding anything i am not legally entitled to.

Ben Jones :

Well it does not stop you giving it a go and trying to negotiate something better but if the employer refuses then you know it would not be possible to take it further

Customer:

Yeah i guess that is a far point.

Customer:

Thank you for all your help Ben

Ben Jones :

You are welcome, all the best

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45378
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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