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Equal Opportunity

Volume 990: debated on Monday 4 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment in what respect the Equal Pay Act 1970 conflicts with the requirements of the 1975 EEC directive on equal opportunity.

The European Commission has alleged that the Equal Pay Act does not apply fully the terms of directive 75/117/EEC which defines the principle of equal pay as the elimination of discrimination on grounds of sex with regard to remuneration

"for the same work or for work to which equal value is attributed".
The Commission considers that in the United Kingdom a female worker could not demand equal pay for work to which equal value is attributed unless a valid job evaluation scheme is applied in the employing establishment. The Commission takes the view that section 1(4) of the Equal Pay Act, in using the notion "like work", does not include the concept of work of "equal value"; and that the concept of equal value used in section 1(5) is not adequate because it is dependent on a job evaluation scheme applying in the undertaking in question. The Government are considering what their response to the Commission should be.