Education and work experience

Differences in pay can be justified by education if the education of the person with the higher salary improves their performance or if they can carry out a larger variety of duties for the employer than the person used for comparison.

An acceptable reason for the difference in pay may also be work experience which helps the employee perform their duties better. Length of time in service can usually be considered to increase the kind of work experience that improves performance at work. Therefore the length of time in service can generally be used as a justification for the pay without the employer having to justify their actions separately. The employer may however have to justify their use of length of time in service as a criterion for higher pay if the employee brings up circumstances that cause reasonable doubt as to the relevance of the years of service for the performance on the job. (see Case Cadman C-17/05).

Various factors, such as education and work experience, may also compensate one another as factors affecting the level of pay. The judgement of one court was that the employees long work experience and personal characteristics partially compensated for the fact that they were less educated than the employee with the higher salary. Therefore the employer was not considered to have an acceptable reason overall for the difference in pay, only for some of the differences. (Turku Court of Appeal, S 01/1471, issued on 28 February 2003).