Equal pay: how do I carry out job evaluation?

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • employers

Which countries is it relevant to?

    • Great Britain

Although not mandatory, job evaluation is one of the most important tools for reviewing and assessing your whole pay system and ensuring you meet your obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

Having a consistent, gender-neutral method for assessing and comparing the value of different jobs is vital to achieving equal pay. It is one of the most important tools to help you make sure you are acting lawfully. Without one, you might be at risk of an equal pay claim.

Job evaluation schemes:

  • provide a basis for a grading and pay structure
  • provide a means to check and demonstrate you are providing equal pay for equal work
  • evaluate the job, not the job holder
  • provide a way of assessing the demands of a job that is as objective as possible

Having this information can be crucial if you need to defend your pay system against an equal pay claim.

Developing a job evaluation scheme

The following criteria have been adapted from guidance from the courts and tribunals. They set out the standards a job evaluation must meet if it can be relied upon in defence of an equal value claim, to demonstrate that two jobs have not been rated as equivalent and are therefore not of equal value.

A job evaluation must be meet four key criteria. It must be:

1. Analytical

The job evaluation should assess and score each job in terms of the demands made on the employee under ‘job factors’.

Combining the scores for each factor gives a single score for the job. The total points scored decide a job’s place in the ranking order.

Factors are clearly identifiable aspects of jobs that can be defined and measured. They provide the basis for assessing and comparing the relative overall worth of different jobs. Examples of factors are:

  • responsibility for people
  • knowledge
  • communication skills
  • physical demands
  • emotional demands
  • mental skills
  • initiative

Factors in a job evaluation can often contain different levels to indicate different demands related to complexity, managerial oversight or autonomy.

For example, the factor ‘initiative’ might contain several levels, ranging from the lowest defined as ‘following detailed instructions under close supervision’, to the highest defined as ‘working within overall policy and having very wide discretion over a broad range of activities with minimal managerial direction’.

These levels must be objective, measurable and relevant to the demands of the job.

Except in very broad terms, such as effort, skill, decision-making, there is no standard set of factors applicable to all jobs. The choice of which factors to use is crucial as it will determine the final order in which jobs are ranked.

2. Thorough and impartial

It must objectively assess the value placed on the work performed and, as far as possible, be explicit and comprehensive to avoid the results of the evaluation being influenced by subjective views.

3. Gender neutral

It should be non-discriminatory, recognise the skills of men and women equally, and be applied in a consistent and unbiased way.

Job evaluations should identify all the demands of a job, and not overvalue or ignore factors that are associated with jobs typically done by one gender or the other, such as having good communication skills, which is typically associated with women. These factors are often regarded as skills that women possess ‘naturally’ or acquire through life experience, so are often left out of job evaluations.

You can find more information on gender neutral job evaluation in our booklet: Gender-Neutral Job Evaluation Schemes. An Introductory Guide.

4. Reliable

Its procedures and practices must be up to date and documented, as should its evaluation results, and it must be fully completed across the organisation.

Job evaluators

To ensure a fair and credible job evaluation, the people doing it (known as the ‘evaluators’) should:

  • be in a panel of three or more
  • have a broad knowledge of jobs across the organisation
  • be representative of the gender balance across the organisation, as well as other characteristics of the workforce, such as age and ethnicity
  • be trained in equality issues and the avoidance of bias

Monitoring a job evaluation scheme

Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of a job evaluation scheme is important. They should:

  • revise job information when significant changes in jobs occur
  • provide a fair and robust process for evaluating changed jobs and quality check this on a regular basis.
  • make periodic checks to ensure adequate rationales are being kept
  • monitor the outcome of ongoing evaluations for new and changed jobs by gender, investigating and justifying any differences

If you are considering carrying out job evaluation, speak to an Acas adviser or other job evaluation expert for guidance. 

Disclaimer

While every effort has been made to ensure that this advice is accurate and up to date, it does not guarantee that you could successfully defend an equal pay claim. Only the courts or tribunals can give authoritative interpretations of the law.

Last updated: 03 Sep 2020

Contact Acas for further information

If you are involved in an employment dispute or are seeking information on employment rights and rules, you can contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas):

Visit the Acas website

Freephone: 0300 123 1100 (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm Saturday)

Text Relay service: 18001 0300 123 1100.