A recent case has confirmed that each term of a contract should be considered in isolation for the purposes of assessing an equal pay claim.

In St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust v Brownhill, five female workers sought equal pay in respect of enhanced payments for weekend work and unsocial hours. In these circumstances they received less than male comparators, although taking into account the female employees’ combined benefits all but one received a higher overall pay than the male comparators.

The Tribunal rejected their claim, stating that the unsocial and weekend benefits formed part of their normal working hours and basic pay. The EAT disagreed with the Tribunal, holding that the terms relating to unsocial hours and weekends were discrete and comparable. They therefore found for the employees and the Trust appealed.

The Court of Appeal found for the employees and remitted the case back to the Employment Tribunal to consider the other aspects of the claim. They held that each term of the contract was separate and all could be grounds for an equal pay claim. The Court emphasised that equal pay is focused on each distinct term relating to remuneration as opposed to the totality of pay received.

Employers should make sure that each specific type of remuneration made to staff is paid with no distinction as to gender, even if there is equality of pay when looking at the wider picture.