While the Equal Pay Act says that a woman claimant must show a male comparator doing 'like work' or 'work rated as equivalent' in order for her claim to succeed, this can include a man doing a lower grade job but receiving more pay.

In Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council v Bainbridge the Court of Appeal has confirmed that tribunals should not stick strictly to the wording of the Equal Pay Act which says that a woman should be regarded as ‘employed on work rated as equivalent with that of any man if, but only if, her job and their job have been given an equal value’.

It would be a nonsense if this wording meant that women could only bring equal pay claims where better-paid men were working on the same grade as them, but not where the better-paid men were on lower grades.

Point to note:

  • Although it is a defence to an equal pay claim that the woman’s work and the work of her male comparator have been given different values in a job evaluation study, this will only provide a complete answer to a claim if the man’s work has been rated higher than the women’s work. If the man’s work has been rated lower but he is being paid more, the woman will still have an equal pay claim.