In Pike v (1) Somerset County Council (2) Secretary of State for Education & Skills the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered the relevant pool of comparators in an equal pay claim relating to part-timers.

The case considered whether a rule of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme that discriminated between workers who returned to work on a full-time basis after retirement and workers who returned to work on a part-time basis breached the Equal Pay Act 1970.

The Equal Pay Act 1970 implies an equality clause into an employment contract. Broadly, an equality clause modifies a woman’s employment contract to ensure that she do not have less favourable terms than a man employed in like work and in the same employment.

In this case the rule of the pension scheme prevented workers who retired and returned to work on a part-time basis from rejoining the scheme. Workers who returned on a full time basis could however re-join the scheme.

The EAT held that the only logical pool for establishing whether female employees were disadvantaged when compared to the male employees were those who retired and returned to work either on a full-time basis or part-time basis.

The EAT found that approximately 15 percent more women that men fell into the group of workers who returned to work on a part-time basis. Therefore the claimant had shown that the scheme rule had a disparate impact on women on the basis of the chosen pool.