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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44882
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I worked for a UK registered charity but I was overseas for

Customer Question

I worked for a UK registered charity but I was overseas for most of the 1.5 years I worked for them. I was not aware when I signed the employment contract that they were paying me less than 50% of the average pay my type of position received in that area of the world. They have been operating in that area for more than 10 years and they are very familiar with pay grades. I did some research and showed them that I knew they were grossly under paying me, but they only agreed to pay me the minimum average for my last 3 months of work. Do I have a case to take them to court to try and get a sum that would mean I had received the average pay?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Was your contract governed by UK law? PS: I am in tribunal today so will not be able to respond immediately but you will have my full response this afternoon, many thanks in advance
JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

Yes, the contract was governed by UK law because the charity was UK registered. I was classed as an 'independent contractor' but were part of the regular staff.

Ben Jones :

OK, thank you, please leave this with me - I will look into this for you, get my response ready and get back to you on here. No need to wait around and you will get an email when I have responded, thank you

Ben Jones :

Apologies for the slight delay, I experienced some temporary connection issues earlier on. All seems to be resolved now so I can continue with my advice. I just needed to ask you one more question before I could finalise my advice. You say you were not aware you were being paid less than the usual pay for your area of the world but were you specifically misled about this by the employer, for example did they specifically tell you that you were paid on par with everyone else?

JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

Yes they did, they said that my salary was the local rate for my position and level. 6 months later, once id researched into the matter, I presented them with what I had found and they didnt seem to put up any opposition to it. They agreed to increase my wage but only after my original 1 year contract had finished. So I was working for 50% of what I should have received for an entire year. And they were well aware of that.

Ben Jones :

The law on equal pay 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.

Even if there was evidence that the reasons for the difference in pay may be gender-related, the employer could still try and rely on the 'genuine material factor' defence to defend any equal pay claim. This would occur where the employer can show that the difference in pay is due to:

• Past performance

• Seniority or length of service

• Different hours of work

• Geographical differences

• Different skills, qualifications and experience

• Pay protection following job re-grading

So unless there were discriminatory reasons for the difference in pay, there is nothing illegal in paying different rates even if the workers are performing the same job. I agree that is appears unfair and morally wrong, but unfortunately it is not illegal.

The only other way to try and pursue this would be misrepresentation, but that would not be easy. You must be able to show that:

  • The employer misrepresented or concealed a material fact
  • It knew of the falsity of such misrepresentation
  • It intended to induce your reliance
  • You justifiably relied on the misrepresentation
  • You were damaged as a result

You would have to calculate the losses suffered and then can consider taking this to court. Your success will depend on many factors so it is completely impossible to say whether you will win or not, although I suggest you try and resolve this with the employer first before you take them to court (you may threaten court if necessary during any negotiations).

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

How would you word the emails to my employer threatening court action? And given that my claim would be relatively small do you advise that I should or should not take them to court? I have written evidence from them saying my salary was inline with the local market, which it wasnt. Im also male, so gender bias is not the issue.

Ben Jones :

How much do you think the claim is worth?

JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

between 2,500 and 4,000 Pounds. But that is just the excess, I wouldnt really know what to type of claim to make

Ben Jones :

well you can only claim for the actual difference, you will not get any further compensation. If these are the sums you would be claiming then this would go to the small claims court and this is a relatively risk-free venue as you will not have to pay the employer's legal costs if you lose

JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

but i would have legal costs myself?

Ben Jones :

Not unless you use a solicitor, you do not need one, the small claims court is often used by individuals without any legal representation

JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

so therefore from a legal perspective do you think i should claim, assuming they do not pay up after I have contacted them? And how would i word those interactions with them?

Ben Jones :

Well you could try to make the claim just to send a message and show you are serious, you never know once they see that they could try and offer a settlement, you can also discontinue it at any time if you do not wish to proceed with it.

There is no formal terms to word the letter, you just tell them you are treating this as misrepresentation, how you were misled, and ask for compensation for the difference. Advise them you are giving them a certain time to resolve this and failure to do so could result in you taking legal action - keep it short and to the point

JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

how do i make the claim? who do i contact and what process will i go through?

Ben Jones :

you can make the claim through www.moneyclaim.gov.uk - the steps will be outlined when your claim is accepted and the court sends you the documents through

JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

in your opinion do you think I have a good chance of getting the money?

Ben Jones :

it is impossible for me to advise on that and it is against the rules of the site, I am sorry, I simply do not have enough information to form an opinion - all I can do is advise you of the law and your rights but chances of success are only obtained once you have a formal case analysis by a solicitor you see in person.

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

Ben Jones :

Hello?

Ben Jones :

Are you having problems with chat as I see you coming in and out frequently?

JACUSTOMER-ab2esvma- :

no im not, im just thinking and not always able to come on

Ben Jones :

ah I see, thanks - well let me know if you need anything else from me so I know whether to close this at my end, many thanks

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