employment law

Minimising equal pay risk

Black and white headshot of Michelle Biggs

Michelle Biggs, Employment & People Insight Manager

28 September 2023

Understandably, we at SEE have been receiving a number of questions relating to the various news items relating to equal pay and whether we will be commenting on the specific cases. The short answer is ‘No’, but that’s not to say we aren’t looking at the best way we can support you. So instead of looking at what has ‘gone wrong’ we’re going to focus on ensuring our councils know how to minimise their risks.

The NJC Job Evaluation scheme was developed in conjunction with the Trades Unions as part of the Single Status project. It remains a fair, robust and objective method of identifying work of similar value across the LG workforce. As with anything though, the devil is in the detail and it is the application of the JE Scheme that can potentially open the door to bias.

Two hands shielding a wooden balance bar with a wooden representation of a man and a woman on either end

Here are our tips for minimising that risk:

Local Conventions: The NJC JE Scheme allows for individual employers to develop local conventions enabling them to mould the scheme to their workforce. However, any local conventions should be clearly documented and regularly reviewed and challenged to ensure they remain fit for purpose and free from unintended bias.

Evaluation Panels: These should not just be HR or Senior Managers. Engage with your recognised Trades Union(s) and make sure they have a seat at the table. Draw on your wider workforce to bring an ‘outside’ perspective to the evaluation conversation.

Trained Evaluators: Anyone involved in undertaking JE should be trained in the scheme, including any local conventions. Part of this training should include using existing Job Specifications to practice scoring and discuss any variations in the way people have scored each factor.

Record Keeping: Whether your evaluators undertake individual assessments and then come together to discuss their views or the panel convenes and evaluates the post together, notes of discussions, scores for each factor and reasons for decisions should be kept for a minimum of six years.

Governance: Establish a Multidisciplinary Team whose role will be to undertake a regular review of evaluated roles to moderate decisions, verify the consistent application of the JE scheme including any local conventions, ensure organisational consistency and identify any drift or artificial inflation that is occurring early.

Review historic pay decisions: Have you consolidated any allowances or bonuses into your main pay? Do you operate ‘task & finish’ working patterns or have these crept in through team level practice? Review the impact of these decisions for unintended bias.

Pay Audit: The Green Book contains at Appendix guidance on conducting a pay audit to identify any potential risks. It is recommended that pay audits are carried out on a regular basis as a method of demonstrating the commitment to taking action to foster and embed equal pay within the council.

Take Action: Where issues are identified through moderation, monitoring, audit or complaints, work with your Trades Union to develop and implement an action plan to address any bias in your pay structure. Once you know there is an issue, doing nothing to fix it only increases your liability.

If you have any questions or would like our support to undertake a pay audit, please contact us on advice@seemp.co.uk

Get in touch

If you have any questions or would like advice on equal pay get in touch with us using the contact form.

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