The EAT has held that job evaluation study ("JES") is of evidential value only, and not conclusive, when considering whether a woman's job was of equal value to her male comparator's in the period before the study was implemented.

Under the Equal Pay Act 1970 work is "rated as equivalent" if it has been rated so under a JES. In this case the employee's job had been placed in the same pay band as those of her male comparators in a JES implemented from October 2004 onwards. Since it was held in the case Bainbridge and ors v Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (No.2) that a JES cannot have retrospective effect, the employee sought to argue instead that the fact that she had been banded with her comparators in the JES was determinative evidence that their jobs were of equal value under s1(2)(c) of the Act, in the period prior to 1 October 2004, and therefore no further evidence from an independent expert was needed.

Before the EAT the employee changed her argument slightly, submitting that in the absence of any contrary evidence from the employer the same banding in a JES constitutes determinative or sufficient evidence of equal value for the period prior to implementation.

The EAT did not accept this argument and referred to Bainbridge and ors v Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (No.2), in which the EAT noted that, while the fact that jobs were rated as equivalent under a JES was evidence that those jobs were of equal value at an earlier stage, it did not follow that the employer was bound to accept that the jobs were of equal value for a period prior to implementation of the JES.

Therefore in this case the JES banding was of evidential value when considering whether the employee's job and those of her comparators were of equal value prior to 1 October 2004, but it was not determinative and it was appropriate to appoint an independent expert.

Hovell v Ashford and St Peter's Hospital NHS Trust