HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 c490W
Mr. Lennox-Boyd

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what conclusions he has reached following consultations over his proposals to amend the Equal Pay Act 1970.

Mr. Alison

I have studied carefully the comments I have received. It will not be possible to lay the order amending the Equal Pay Act before the dissolution of Parliament.

In the light of the consultations I have concluded that changes in the draft regulations circulated in February are necessary, first, in respect of where the onus in equal value cases should lie to show that any difference is one of sex; and, second, the right of women to claim under the new arrangements where they are covered by existing job classifications. In addition I have concluded that the regulations should come into force on 1 January 1984.

In particular I have in mind to provide that:

  1. (a) a woman claiming equal pay under the arrangements introduced by the amendment would not have the burden of showing that the variation between her contract and that of the man with whom she sought comparison was due to the difference of sex. Instead it would be open to an employer to justify his case by showing that a variation was due to any material factor other than sex, not just a factor personal to the woman;
  2. (b) it would be possible for a woman to claim equal pay under the new arrangements even if her job and that of her male comparator were already covered by a job classification system, provided it was shown that the system discriminated on grounds of sex.