ok but this service related progression scale - was that only dependent on service length? How is gender implicated in it that makes it a factor in the difference in pay?
ok this will be a big flaw in your argument unfortunately - coincidence will not help you in any way to try and claim equal pay in this situation. In fact, 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:
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.
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? Thanks
Employers generally would be, regardless of whether they have a case or not - a claim will mean additional costs to defend any claim, time and expenses will also be added so it is not unusual for them to be nervous about this, even if you have no valid claim