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Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay

OFMDFM has responsibility for providing and updating legislation which tackles unfair discrimination on the basis of a person’s gender.

The Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 as amended makes it unlawful to discriminate against:

  • an individual on the grounds of his or her sex in employment, training and related matters, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services and the disposal and management of premises;
  • married persons in employment; and
  • since 1999, an individual who intends to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment in employment and training. For more information on gender reassignment, access the Guide published with the Regulations 1999
Following an earlier consultation, we amended the Order in April 2004 to make it unlawful to discriminate after the end of the relationship, for example the employment relationship.
More information on this legislation can be found on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland website

The Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970

The Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 as amended applies equally to men and women. It provides for equal pay between men and women by giving, to take a woman as the example, a woman the right to equality in terms of her contract of employment where she is employed on:
  • like work to that of a man;
  • work rated as equivalent to that of a man; or
  • work of equal value to that of a man.
Following previous consultations, the Act was amended in April 2004 to change the time limits within which claims must be brought, and the arrears period for successful cases.
Access the Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 via the Legisation.gov.uk website.

Implementing the Equal Treatment Amendment Directive (2002/73/EC)

The Equal Treatment Amendment Directive (ETAD) is concerned with the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion and working conditions. The Directive amends the original 1976 Equal Treatment Directive (1976/76/EC) to reflect changes to the EU Treaty and developments in European case law since 1976. Among other things, ETAD:
  • defines direct and indirect discrimination;
  • harassment, including sexual harassment; and
  • discrimination by way of less favourable treatment because of pregnancy or maternity leave.
The Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005 implement, in Northern Ireland, the EU Equal Treatment Amendment Directive concerning equal treatment between men and women in employment, vocational training, promotion and working conditions. The Regulations came into operation on 5 October 2005.

Implementing the Gender Directive (2004/113/EC)

The Gender Directive is concerned with the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services.
The Sex Discrimination (Amendment of Legislation) Regulations 2008 implement, in the United Kingdom, the EU Gender Directive concerning equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services which are available to the public.

Implementing the Recast Directive (2006/54/EC)

The Recast Directive came into force on 15 August 2006 and all Member States were required to implement it by 15 August 2008.
A Transposition Table (PDF 321KB) has been prepared by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister which sets how the Recast Directive has been transposed into Northern Ireland law.