Is it legal for different bonuses to apply to staff doing the same jobs?

My partner is doing the exact same job as other employed where he works. However, there are staff who started before my partner who are on an “old contract” where they get paid a bonus dependent on how much work they do in a month. This is added to their wage every month and is quite a considerable amount. Most weeks my partner does more than these staff and due to not being on the old contract doesn’t get any extra in his pay. He has questioned this with his manager who has told these staff not to tell my partner how much extra they earn. This seems a little off to me and I was wondering if this type of thing was legal?



This query would come under a few different categories. It could come under a pay difference, where different people are doing the same job for different pay. The legal position will depend on the reason for the pay difference.

Employers are allowed to agree to pay different workers at different rates of pay for doing the same job as long as they do not breach equality laws/ other anti-discrimination laws, such as laws against indirect discrimination.

You would also need to confirm the following about the bonus:

Bonuses are either guaranteed under contract, are discretionary or some combination of the two. The details of any bonus schemes should be specified in the terms of the employment contract.

In most bonus schemes, employers allow themselves the discretion to decide who would be eligible for a bonus, the amount payable and whether to pay any bonuses at all in a particular year.

It is unlawful, however, to use bonuses to discriminate against an employee because of their sex, race, age, disability or religion. Performance should be the only satisfactory basis for an employer to justify any differences.

I would ask your partner to ask HR to see a copy of his contract and to ask to see if he should be part of any bonus scheme. Then if he is not satisfied with their response he can submit a grievance to investigate this further.

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