Pay audits are key to equality

One year on, the recommendations of the Equal Pay Task Force and its Just
Pay report are beginning to have an impact.

The basics of an Equal Pay Review are straightforward. Within a Stage One
review there is a requirement to undertake a ‘pay system equality check’ as
well as a ‘review of like work’ and a ‘review of equal value’. The latter two
involve simple comparisons of average hourly earnings and identifying gender
gaps between pay for men and women. The main difficulty is whether this
information is available in a readily usable form.

The Equality Check establishes whether there is a fully communicated ‘policy
on equal pay’ and whether responsibility for implementation has been clearly
assigned. The crunch comes, however, with one question in the equality check:
"Is there a single analytical job evaluation system in place?"

Organisations cannot conduct a cursory ‘review of like work’ but must
address the issue at a more fundamental level – namely with a well-designed,
inclusive and soundly implemented job evaluation scheme.

This provides the foundation for a successful Stage 2 Review, to identify
the nature, causes and extent of pay inequalities and requires an action plan
to resolve any differences.

The selection of factors in an analytical job evaluation scheme must be
non-gender biased (there is guidance given on this in the EOC publication Good
Practice Guide on Job Evaluation Schemes Free of Sex Bias). This does not
preclude, however, the factors selected having a hard business edge to them.

The best business-focused and gender-proofed schemes are designed, developed
and implemented by user organisations themselves – with, generally, only
minimal external advice being necessary if the HR team does not have the
expertise. Of course some resource input is necessary, but with the latest
advances in job holder ‘self evaluation’ this too can be limited.

Job descriptions, which form a fundamental input to job evaluation, need not
be burdensome or restrictive. They can, when audited and improved, be
streamlined documents that can flex to the changing needs of the organisation.
To obtain real value, the same document should be used for recruitment,
training and performance improvement activities as well as providing a basis
for fair pay.

The implementation of job evaluation results – whether used to devise a pay
spine, grades or broad bands – can result in gender bias and a pay audit will
establish whether this is the case. The potential this gives to enhance
development and control of costs while rewarding contribution and achievement
is immense.

Derek Burn is director consulting, DLA-MCG

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