Independent report

Discrimination law and pay systems 2018

This report looks at how developments in discrimination case law might be relevant to public sector pay structures and pay determination.


Discrimination law and pay systems August 2018

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


This report explains how the law of discrimination and equal pay impacts on public sector pay, with particular reference to the pay systems overseen by the pay review bodies. In particular:

  • it shows how discrimination law may be used to challenge pay systems and their application, acknowledging the specific duty of public sector employers in this regard

  • it explains the gender pay gap reporting requirements and their relevance and otherwise to equal pay

  • it outlines the difference between a discrimination claim and an equal pay claim, including the circumstances in which each can arise

  • it explains how equal pay law works, with reference to the current state of case law and particular attention to the material factor defence and how it operates

  • it includes an examination of the range of relevant themes that emerge from the pay systems covered by the review bodies, with a particular look at potential discrimination, the characteristics likely to be affected and whether claims are likely to relate to discrimination or equal pay.

Published 29 August 2018