Equal Pay Tribunal win for Skills Development Scotland Workers

On 40th Anniversary of Equal Pay Act Tribunal finds in favour of women paid £10,000 less a year

15 June 2010

Two female Skills Development Scotland (SDS) employees have won their equal pay Employment Tribunal case.  The case was supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Mairi Buchanan and Pat Holland, both employed at Skills Development Scotland as Customer Services Managers, have been paid approximately £10,000 a year less than their male colleague, also a Customer Services Manager, for 8 years.

Mairi Buchanan and Pat Holland have worked for ‘Careers Scotland’ since 2002 when they were TUPE transferred to Scottish Enterprise and, after interview, appointed to new posts along with their male colleague. Their colleague had transferred with a higher starting salary and this, along with ongoing pay rises resulted in him being paid £10,000 more than Ms Buchanan and Ms Holland for  work of equal value. The pay gap continued when they were TUPE transferred a second time into Skills Development Scotland.

The Employment Tribunal found that, while Scottish Enterprise was obliged under TUPE to honour early pay increases for the male employee, they were not similarly obliged to continue to increase his salary, and by doing so, were increasing the pay gap between himself and Ms’ Buchanan and Holland.  They also found discrepancies in performance related pay bonuses.

The Tribunal stated that Ms Buchanan and Ms Holland’s contracts should now include equality clauses, and they are entitled to pay and benefits equal to that of their male colleague.  An award has still to be decided.

Welcoming the win, Mairi Buchanan said:

'I am delighted that we have finally resolved this case. To finally gain some parity is a huge relief, but we are all too aware that there are still thousands of women in a similar position.  We are very grateful for the support of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who have fought our case throughout, and feel like at last a huge weight has been lifted.'

Pat Holland said,

‘Mairi and I are relieved and delighted that the case is resolved.  It has brought with it a lot of stress and it has taken a long time, but it just shows that things don’t and won’t change if we don’t stand up and do something about them.  I feel elated, not for financial reasons, but because of the feeling, at last, of being valued and recognised.   

Kaliani Lyle, Scotland Commissioner, Equality & Human Rights Commission said:

'We’ve just marked 40 years since the implementation of the Equal Pay act but clearly, and despite legislation aimed at tackling our persistent pay gap, people are still being treated unfairly at work because of their gender. We hope that by supporting this case we are able to highlight to employers that this is unacceptable. The Commission believes that employers must develop ways to measure and report on their gender pay gap, by adopting transparent pay policies and more flexible approaches to work. The Commission will provide whatever assistance it can to help businesses measure and address pay gaps. However, we have made it clear that when the voluntary approach fails, we will use our enforcement powers to address any persistent and significant problems.'

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For press enquiries contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland : Deborah Cowan on 0141 228 5938, Colin Macfarlane on 07970 541 369  or Ally Thomson on 07970787234

Notes to Editors 

  • Mairi Buchanan, Pat Holland and a spokesperson for the Commission in Scotland are available for interview.  To arrange an interview please contact the Commission, details above.  
  • Scottish Enterprise carried out a pay audit which highlighted that senior management posts were predominantly filled by men and that men were at the top of more senior salary scales.  4 men were identified (including the comparator) who had protected salaries. These were classified as “outlying salaries” and were removed from the pay audit before the difference in pay was calculated, with the effect that the female average pay compared to male rose from 95% to 100%. Scottish Enterprise took no action as a result of the audit.
  • Discrimination in employment on grounds of pay is regulated by the Equal Pay Act (1970)
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission will enforce equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourage compliance with the Human Rights Act. It will also give advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.