Same work and work of equal value

Work duties as a basis for comparisons of pay

Evaluating whether or not the pay is discriminatory usually requires comparisons to be made. Comparisons of pay can principally be done for employees who are carrying out the same work or work of equal value for the same employer. Prohibitions against pay discrimination can also be applied when a lower salary is paid for more demanding work than for less demanding work if the other conditions for pay discrimination are also met. In some other cases the employees may also be in a comparable position regarding benefits that are considered as part of the pay.

When judging whether or not the work is the same or of equal value, the work duties and the demands that these impose on the employee are used as a basis. The evaluation must be based on the employees actual duties, not e.g. on the job title or the job description that has been agreed in the contract of employment if these differ from the actual duties.

The employee's personal characteristics or performance at work should not affect the evaluation of whether or not the work being compared is the same or of equal value. These circumstances may, however, be an acceptable reason for why employees carrying out the same work or work of equal value are being paid a different salary.

What does same work mean, what does work of equal value mean?

The draft of the Equality Act states that the comparison should focus on the quality and content of the work duties and the working conditions.

'Same work' means equivalent or nearly equivalent work. From the point of view of the evaluation, the differences between the types of work are important: what the differences are and how often they occur.

Comparisons of pay can also be made of different types of work if they can be seen as being of equal value regarding their degree of difficulty. The things that should be taken into consideration when evaluating the value of the work depend on the types of work that are being compared. Sometimes it can be enough in these cases as well to simply compare the differences between the work duties. If, however, the types of work are of a very different nature, the characteristics of the types of work that are being evaluated need to be specified and analysed. The types of work as a whole can be seen to be of equal difficulty even if their level of difficulty is based on different characteristics. Important criteria that are often mentioned are skill, responsibility, stress and working conditions.