New statutory equal pay questionnaires could become a useful
weapon for high-flyers unhappy with their annual bonuses.
The questionnaires, due to come into force in April, are
designed to allow employees who believe they may have an equal pay claim to
request information on colleagues’ pay levels from their employers.
But they will also "allow pressure to be brought to
bear upon the employer at an early stage to justify bonuses paid to comparator
employees", said Stefan Martin, partner at law firm Allen & Overy.
"The procedure will, inevitably, be used as a
negotiating tool in severance situations," he said.
Martin advised employers to adopt clear parameters when
calculating bonus awards, and to ensure bonus levels are scrutinised by several
managers so it can justify discrepancies objectively.
The questionnaires have also led employers to question how
they can reply to them without breaching the Data Protection Act 1998.