Challenge to NHS equal pay system rejected

The continuing saga of the government’s difficulty with equal pay reached an interesting moment today when a Newcastle tribunal rejected the Union’s challenges to the Agenda for Change job evaluation system. Implemented at great expense the system was designed to reduce uncertainty and equal pay problems.

The tribunal decision is not binding on other cases, but it was agreed this would be at test case. Interestingly enough the ‘red circling’ a common technique where higher paid employees’ packages are frozen to allow their colleagues to catch up over time was unsuccessfully challenged. This means that men who are overpaid under the current system can continue to retain their benefits at least for the meantime.

Historically many equal pay problems were ‘solved’ by freezing the higher paid workers pay and allowing inflation and salary increases to eliminate the difference over time. In these days of low increases and even deflation it is interesting to consider whether the new approach might be to give notice to terminate the existing higher paid contracts on the grounds that they are unlawful in terms of equal pay and offer lower paid, non discriminatory ones all round.

No doubt this is the last thing that any individual worker would want to be on the receiving end of!.   Yet it appears many local authorities will be taking such steps as they work through the massive backlog of equal pay claims

What a tangled web we are weaving. Millions spent, pay differentials as they were and no closer to a resolution.

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