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Our longer-standing employees (those employed before January 2004) receive company sick pay as part of their contract. New employees do not receive this company sick pay in their contract (agreed by the union). One employee on the new contract has refuted this, claiming equal pay/discrimination. I cannot find anything that helps me on this one. I am keeping my stance that he signed the contract with full knowledge of no sick pay, so he must live with it until I can find out otherwise.

We stopped sick pay for new starters as a cost-cutting solution, as the sick pay scheme was, and is still, costing us a fortune. Any suggestions?

Answer 1: It is always possible to claim either on equal pay or discrimi-nation. Discrimination would arise if you had a disproportionately male ‘older’ group and a predominantly female or ethnic minority ‘newer’ group of staff. The claim would be indirect discrimination, and you would then have to justify it (fairly easy, I would suggest).

The trickier option would be equal pay, where someone can virtually pick their own comparator and you then get into the statistics game again.

Stick to your guns. All sorts of people use the word discrimination without knowing what they are talking about. Just avoid sacking him for asserting his statutory rights.

Answer 2: I do not believe there would be any equal pay/discrimi-nation implication for not offering sick pay to all new employees. For someone to claim this, they would need to show that another new employee of the opposite gender (or different race) was being offered access to sick pay. This could arise if you were to use management discretion to offer this to some new employees but not to others.

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