The complex nature of equal pay was highlighted after a female accountant won £25,000 in a claim that relied on the fact her male successor earned £8,000 more than her.
Bridget Bodman, a former accountant at manufacturing company API Group, was able to use her replacement as a ‘comparator’ at an employment tribunal.
Bodman joined API in April 2000 as a group accountant and was promoted to financial controller less than a year later.
She became suspicious about the salary and benefits offered to her replacement, as group accountant, and requested that the company fill out an equal pay questionnaire.
The firm revealed that Bodman’s successor was paid £8,000 more than her, as well as receiving an £8,640 car allowance and additional benefits.
Jenny Watson, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, which supported Bodman, said the case demonstrated the importance of equal pay reviews. “Equal pay is not simply about people working side-by-side being paid the same salary for doing the same job,” she said.
“This decision sends out a clear message for employers to ensure their pay systems are transparent, or they leave themselves open to costly claims.”
The tribunal ruled the company had no defence for the difference in salaries.
The ‘successor’ claim has only been used a handful of times successfully since the first UK case in 1996.