A report prepared by the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care, and commissioned by the NHS Staff Council has found no evidence that the introduction of Agenda for Change (AfC) has favoured one group over another in relation to pay.

The report looked at the effects of both gender and ethnicity in respect of pay under AfC and found no evidence that AfC contributed to any pay disparities. This is welcome news which adds to the victory in the legal challenge to AfC in the Hartley case. The findings of this detailed report which considered the mean and median pay of over 500,000 nurses and non-medical staff within the NHS between 2004 and 2007, supports the position of NHS organisations defending equal pay claims. However, the report’s authors were careful to point out that they did not focus on whether AfC had been a success in reducing any pay disparities, but on whether AfC appears to favour one group over another comparable group.

The report was published in April 2009 and supports the judgment in Hartley and ors v Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and ors where the Newcastle Employment Tribunal rejected claims that the AfC job evaluation study was invalid under the Equal Pay Act 1970 and pay protection arrangements had a disparate impact on women.

The detailed statistical analysis is to be welcomed as it provides further evidence of AfC as a valid job evaluation scheme.