International mechanisms to revalue women's work: research

The report reviews different approaches to redress the undervaluation of women’s work and assesses their applicability to the Scottish employment context. The report finds that undervaluation of women’s work is a driver of the gender pay gap and makes recommendations to alleviate this disparity.

Appendix 1 – Case Study 12 – UK: Litigation, Job Evaluation, Collective Bargaining and Industrial Action in the English Civil Service

This case study focuses on the long-standing campaign by Civil Service trade union, Prospect, to achieve equal pay for work of equal value for their members across the English Civil Service. Prospect has successfully combined litigation with collective bargaining and revision of the Job Evaluation and Grading Support System (JEGS) job evaluation scheme to achieve equal pay and narrow the GPG in several parts of the Civil Service. This is despite the impact of localised pay bargaining imposed by the Government in the early 1990s and pay austerity within the public sector since 2010.


Civil Service union Prospect’s use of equal pay litigation has been focused on different aspects of gender discrimination within pay systems across Westminster Government Departments and Agencies. It has generally been followed by settlements and collective bargaining to narrow the GPG. The landmark cases of Cadman and Wilson were lodged against the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2001, when the union successfully challenged length of service as the means of pay progression. Following moves to rectify the gender imbalance in posts within the HSE, the women were earning £9,000 and £6,000 per annum less than men doing the same work because they had been in HSE jobs for less time. The case had nine hearings – from the Employment Tribunal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) – which modified the findings of the 1989 Danfoss case, decided in the European Court of Justice, in which it was ruled that length of service was a legitimate means of determining pay. In the case of Cadman and Wilson, the ECJ ruled that the employer had to show that longer service/experience resulted in better performance.

Since then, Prospect has also taken cases in the Valuation Office, Veterinary Laboratory Agency, Prison Service and Intellectual Property Office. JEGS, which had been modified to better reflect the attributes of women’s jobs, was used to evaluate jobs in the Met Office. However, separate and overlapping pay ranges were established for different jobs, undermining JE outcomes and equal pay for work of equal value. The proportion of women employees increased from 25% to 32%, with over 60% of women having less than five years’ service. A pay freeze meant that rates remained at 2008 levels and by 2014, 70% of people were still in the ‘development zone’, despite their experience, widening the GPG. The ad hoc use of recruitment and retention allowances had also distorted the pay system. Alongside litigation, Prospect took industrial action, lobbied MPs and produced an ‘Equal Pay Manifesto’.


Despite ongoing pay austerity in the public sector, the Met Office got agreement from the Treasury to settle individual cases and establish a new pay equal value ‘proofed’ pay structure in 2018. It resulted in a pay increase of up to £7,000 per annum for most employees and a narrowing of the GPG from 10% to 1%. As a result of its 20-year campaign to win equal pay for work of equal value for women across the English Civil Service, Prospect has tackled many of the issues responsible for unequal pay and the GPG. The JEGS JES has been updated, pay and pay systems have been analysed and changed to bring them into line with successful litigation and JE outcomes. Prospect is also using newly established GPG reporting requirements to negotiate better recruitment and promotion schemes, flexible working and training for women to tackle gender discrimination in employment and promotion. An equal value ‘culture’ has been established within the union and the campaign is being extended to women employed on outsourced contracts[128].


Key aspects of Prospect’s campaign have applicability to achieving equal pay within the Scottish Civil Service, although the Scottish jobs, which are the subject of this research, are largely found in outsourced catering and cleaning contracts in trading companies in national monuments, galleries and gardens. It appears that the version of the JEGS JES used in Scotland is an old version which has not been equal value ‘proofed’. This could easily be rectified. In addition, Prospect in Scotland does organise some workers in trading companies, so a systematic approach to equal/low pay similar to that adopted in England could be pursued with the contractors, along with other relevant unions.



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