The Equal Pay Act 1970 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 have just been published, and come into force on Saturday, 19th July 2003.
Their main effect is to:
• remove current provisions in Equal Pay Act 1970 s.2(5) under which compensation for breach is limited to two years back pay (so as to comply with the judgment of the ECJ in Preston v Wolverhampton Health Authority); and,
• extend the six month period after employment has ended during which a claim must be brought if an employer deliberately conceals relevant facts or if the claimant was under a disability.
The Regulations amend and add to the Equal Pay Act 1970, and provide in outline as follows:-
• reg 1. Commencement date - 19th July 2003.
• reg 2. Transitional provisions covering situations existing at 19th July 2003.
• reg 3. Equal pay proceedings must be instituted on or before the "qualifying date" (as defined) and an award to cover back-pay cannot go back beyond the "arrears date" as defined.
• reg 4. Defines the "qualifying date" (normally 6 months after the last day of the employment).
• reg 5. Defines the "arrears date" (normally the date which is 6 years before the day on which the proceedings are instituted). There are different rules for Scotland (normally the period of 5 years ending on the day on which the proceedings are instituted).
• reg 6. Consequentials.
• reg 7. Defines the "qualifying date" for members of the armed forces (normally nine months after the end of service).
• reg 8. Defines the "arrears date" for members of the armed forces (normally the date which is 6 years before the day on which complaint under the service redress procedures was made
• reg 9. Defines "disability" (see immediately below).
The new rules make special provision to extend both the "qualifying date" and the "arrears date" in favour of a claimant if the employer deliberately concealed relevant facts or if the employee was under a disability . "Disability" for this purpose means under a legal disability (ie being under age or mentally incapable) and has nothing to do with the definition used in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.