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Service Related Pay Schemes Could be Unlawful

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The practice of rewarding employees for long service through enhanced pay may have to end after a Court of Appeal ruling that this might discriminate against women.

Christine Wilson, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, claimed that her employer's pay agreement was unfair because it linked pay to length of service for up to 10 years.

This meant that three male colleagues at the same grade as Mrs Wilson were paid more than her for doing equivalent work.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened in the case, arguing that linking pay to length of service often disadvantages women who take career breaks to have children and so frequently do not have the same continuous length of service as men.

For those employers using pay scales that increase salaries with the length of time a worker has been employed, they may now need to justify such policies if employees claim they are unfair where length in service continues to be rewarded beyond the period it could be argued that it brings extra expertise to the role.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said the ruling would provide a welcome boost to women in some jobs who have time off to raise children.

On average men working full time are paid 12.8 per cent more than women, although the gap has narrowed from 17.4 per cent a decade ago.

Shaun Duffy can be contacted on 0114 2906349 or

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