Equal pay review

The most effective way for an organisation to uncover unequal pay and put it right is to carry out an equal pay review. These are sometimes called equal pay audits.

Close the Gap recommends to employers that trade unions be involved in any steering group overseeing a pay review.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission published sets of guidance for large employers and small employers on how to carry out a pay review. These recommend a five-step process, as follows:

  1. Plan how you are going to check your pay arrangements.
  2. Identify jobs involving similar levels of skill and knowledge.
  3. Collect and compare pay information.
  4. Identify the causes of pay gaps in all elements of pay.
  5. Change pay where it is not fair and equal.

We have produced a brief for unions reps on the role of a rep in conducting an equal pay review.

Job evaluation

One of the most important things to get right when carrying out an Equal Pay Review (Audit) is Step 2, which identifies jobs involving similar levels of skill, knowledge, effort and responsibility. Jobs such as these are known as work of equal value.

The scheme or method used to identify these jobs should be analytical, and it should be free from sex bias. This means that it should not unfairly favour stereotypically male or female jobs.

To check that a job evaluation scheme is free from discrimination, the following questions may be useful.

  1. Are all groups of workers who should be included covered by the scheme? (If workers are excluded, are they predominantly male?)
  2. Is the evaluation panel gender balanced, and have the members had training in sex bias in job evaluation?
  3. Are job descriptions comprehensive, including all aspects of women’s jobs and not over-emphasising job characteristics missing from jobs typically performed by women?
  4. Have you carefully examined job titles which are predominantly applied to women, and have a counterpart applied predominantly to men, to ensure that these reflect genuine differences?
  5. Does the scheme give the demands of the woman’s job equal consideration with the demands of the man’s job?
  6. Does the scheme include, or properly take account of, all the demands of the woman’s job?
  7. Does the scheme give unjustifiably heavy weighting to demands that are more typical of the man’s job?
  8. Do the demands of predominantly female jobs have the same number of levels as the demands of predominantly male jobs?
  9. Is the method for scoring each reasonably similar?
  10. Where there are only a few points between jobs usually performed by men and similar jobs usually performed by women, have grade boundaries been selected so as to avoid creating male and female grades?

A toolkit to support smaller employers in carrying out job comparison for the purposes of determining equal value, is available from Close the Gap.

The EHRC has produced further detailed guidance on job evaluation schemes free of sex bias.

Download Equal Value Guide, Equal Pay Reviews and Job Evaluation: Guidance for Scotland's Colleges.

Related publications

Conducting an Equal Pay Review: the role of union repsConducting an Equal Pay Review: the role of union reps This briefing will give trade union reps an understanding of the role that they should play in taking forward an equal pay review.

CTG Working Paper 6: Invisible women, employment data collection in Scottish local governmentCTG Working Paper 6: Invisible women, employment data collection in Scottish local government As part of a joint initiative with the STUC Women's Committee, Close the Gap conducted research which was intended to assess the impact of current public spending cuts on women's employment in local government in Scotland, and to determine whether the anecdotal evidence is indicative of a shifting pattern of employment practice.

Equal pay and pensionsEqual pay and pensions This briefing highlights some of the key areas where women lose out in the UK pensions system.

Older Women in the Workplace: Balancing work with care This briefing covers some of the issues affecting older working women with caring responsibilities.

Older Women in the Workplace: Health and safety issues This briefing covers some of the health and safety issues affecting older working women.

Older Women in the Workplace: The benefit of experience: older women's access to skills development and training This briefing covers some of the development and training issues affecting older working women.

Public Sector Equality Duty: a toolkit for trade union repsPublic Sector Equality Duty: a toolkit for trade union reps This toolkit is designed to give trade union reps an understanding of PSED, and explain how it differs from the gender equality duty that it replaced.

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