UNISON helped a nurse win a landmark equal pay claim against City & Hackney Teaching Primary Care Trust.
The Trust failed to justify Gloria Emmanuel’s pay being lower than her male comparator’s, a maintenance supervisor.
The first test* case in the equal pay claims against NHS Trusts – of whether employers can justify paying women less than men under the old Whitley Council pay system – will have implications for thousands of claims being pursued.
Bronwyn McKenna, Assistant General Secretary of UNISON, said:
“This is a landmark case that should send out a clear signal to employers that it is not right to pay women less than men. It is a real shame that the Trust wasted so much time and taxpayers’ money fighting a claim it could not justify. Women are bearing the brunt of the Government cuts, as well as facing a rising cost of living. It is unfair to force women to take home less than a man for doing the equivalent job. This victory will have implications for thousands more NHS women workers’ cases.”
Gloria Emmanuel said:
“This has been a tough fight, but I am pleased that the Trust has finally seen sense.
It is not right for bosses to force women to take home less money than male colleagues doing equivalent jobs.
Hopefully, the years of fighting have been worth it and my case will pave the way for other workers to get fair pay.”
Caroline Underhill, of Thompsons Solicitors, who represented Mrs Emmanuel, said:
“This is a significant legal landmark in the NHS cases, which we hope will now mean that a more cost effective resolution through settlement can be achieved.”
The Trust had admitted that Mrs Emmanuel’s work was of equal value to that of a maintenance supervisor, as the jobs were equal under the NHS job evaluation scheme, Agenda for Change. The Trust also confirmed that the maintenance supervisor had a more favourable term when it came to the weekend working rate.
As the majority of NHS nurses are women and the majority of craft maintenance workers are men, a connection between the pay variation and gender could not be avoided.
City and Hackney Teaching PCT argued that there had been separate bargaining processes for the pay and other contract terms of the claimant and other nurses, and those of her comparator and other maintenance supervisors.
The Trust also claimed that the variation in the rate of basic pay was needed to maintain a connection between the pay of craft maintenance workers, including maintenance supervisors, in the NHS and in the external market.
However, the Tribunal found that the Trust had not shown the pay difference to be justified by market forces, or separate processes for pay bargaining.