The role of job evaluation in determining equal value in tribunals. Tool, weapon or cloaking device?

Date01 February 2005
Published date01 February 2005
AuthorKay Gilbert
Subject MatterHR & organizational behaviour
The role of job evaluation in
determining equal value in
Tool, weapon or cloaking device?
Kay Gilbert
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
Purpose – Aims to identify standards set for job evaluation and assess the use of job evaluation by
its executors.
Design/methodology/ap proach Before examining the Employ ment Tribunals’ approach ,
focuses on research already undertaken with a view to assessing job evaluation methods as an
approach to achieve pay equity. Examines the establishment of standards set by case law and goes on
to consider the way in which job evaluation methods have been used in employment tribunal cases,
how the standards apply, and whether there are wider issues being considered.
Findings – Finds that in addition to determining equal pay, in some cases job evaluation has acted as
a barrier or weapon against those making such a claim. The standards set for job evaluation appear to
have been used variably in determining that the jobs are not equal in value under the guises of no
reasonable grounds, material factor defences and in Tribunal decision making.
Originality/value – Demonstrates that job evaluation as a tool can and does provide the means of
assessing jobs to make an equal value decision. However, at times it appears not be used, thoroughly
or methodically.
Keywords Job evaluation,Equal pay, Tribunals
Paper type Case study
Job evaluation was defined by the National Board for Prices and Incomes (1968, p. 1) as
the comparison of jobs by the use of formal and systematic procedures ... in order,
after analysis to determine the relative position of one job to another in a wage salary
hierarchy. This definition recognised the role of negotiation or consent but also
imbedded concepts of logic, justice and equity (National Board for Prices and Incomes,
1968). Since then there has been considerable interest in the methods and use of job
evaluation and in the UK the methods became incorporated into the Equal Pay Act
1970 by allowing “work rated as equivalent” claims between men and women whe re a
study had been undertaken using various headings (for instance effort, skill, decision),
Section 1.5 EPA. Later, in the 1983 Amendment Regulations job evaluation methods
were given a significant role in determining whether jobs were “equal value” where
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Kay Gilbert is an ACAS appointed Independent Expert in Equal Pay.
The author wishes to thank the anonymous referees for their guidance and Joan Keogh for her
useful comments. Thanks also to the staff at the EOC (Scotland) for providing support to this
research project.
The role of job
Received May 2003
Revised August 2004
Accepted August 2004
Employee Relations
Vol. 27 No. 1, 2005
pp. 7-19
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/01425450510569283

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