We have spared our readers some of the more technical decisions on equal pay, but the current status of pay protection schemes is worth a mention. There have been two conflicting decisions at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), both involving local authorities in the North East, who put in place four-year pay protection schemes following the implementation of Agenda for Change (the framework for job evaluation schemes across the local authority sector).

The purpose of pay protection schemes is to cushion the impact of a JES, so that workers whose pay would otherwise be reduced because their job has been allocated a lower grade will not face an immediate cut in salary. But what is the effect on equal pay claimants whose jobs have been placed on the same grade as that of their comparators under the JES but who would still be paid less as a result of pay protection? In the first of the EAT decisions, the employers were told to raise the pay of the equal pay claimants to the same level as the protected pay of their male comparators. The second EAT decision came to the opposite conclusion, because it thought that the scheme could be objectively justified.

The Court of Appeal has recently announced that it will be hearing the appeals in both these cases together. It is hoped that this will enable it to give guidance to employers wishing to soften the impact of implementing a JES without increasing their exposure to equal pay claims.