EOC urges employers to check pay systems

The
Equal Opportunities Commission has urged employers to check their pay systems
are fair after a woman cleaner won her case for sex discrimination and
victimisation.

Dawn
Ruff, whose case was supported by the EOC, worked for Hannant Cleaning Services
in Norwich for eight months and was earning £4.00 an hour when she discovered
she was earning 60p per hour less than a man who worked as a cleaner for the
same company.

The
tribunal heard that Ruff’s employer initially told her a woman would never earn
£4.60 and then later that the difference in pay was because she was not trained
to use certain machinery that the male cleaners used.

At
first she decided not to pursue the matter, but after making the initial
complaint she found that her employer began to question everything she did, her
breaks were changed and extra hours she had agreed to work on bank holidays
were taken away from her.

The
tribunal ordered Hannant to pay Ruff a total of £2,540 in compensation. Of this
£540 accounted for the difference between her pay and that of her comparator
while she worked for Hannant and £2,000 was awarded in damages in respect of
her victimisation claim.

Commenting
on the case, EOC chair Julie Mellor, said: "Cleaning is generally low paid
and dominated by women. Paying men more for cleaning seems to imply that men’s
work is intrinsically more valuable than women’s.

"All
employers need to check that their pay and grading systems do not reflect bias
of this kind. Until that happens some will continue to use women as cheap
labour."

By Ben Willmott

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