Equal pay review step 1: determine whether employees are doing equal work

Multipage Guide

Who is this page for?

  • small and medium organisations (fewer than 50 employees)

Which countries is it relevant to?

    • Great Britain flag icon

      Great Britain

Similar jobs are relatively easy to weigh up, but to check whether different jobs are equal in value you need to consider these key points:

  • the job demands, such as the effort, skills and knowledge the jobs require
  • the responsibilities and problems the jobholders have to deal with

Remember, it's the jobs you are evaluating, not the jobholders themselves.

Start with a spreadsheet

You will need to pull information about each of your employees out of your payroll and personnel systems and enter it onto a spreadsheet.

Use our Sample Spreadsheet Tool as a template.

The spreadsheet should include the following information:

  • each employee’s name or employee number, job title and grade, start date, hours of work and whether they are male or female
  • each employee’s basic pay, total earnings and other work-related benefits. Total earnings include basic pay plus any additions such as overtime, shift pay, bonuses, commission, or any other payments. Benefits include holidays, sick pay, company cars, pension contributions and any other form of non-cash benefit, and
  • each employee's basic hourly rate and the number of standard basic hours of work per week (if some work full-time and others part-time or flexibly).

There’s no need to carry out staff interviews or collect any other forms of information.

Decide which of your employees are doing equal work

Go through the employees on your spreadsheet and identify which of them are doing the same or broadly similar jobs ('like work' or work of equal value).

Use our Equal Value Estimator Tool to help you identify which employees are doing equal work.

Useful things to consider include:

  • Identify those doing like work first. Use job titles as a starting point, but think carefully about what people actually do. For example, your salespeople may have different job titles but be doing the same or broadly similar jobs to each other when you look at the tasks involved.
  • Where jobs look broadly similar but there are differences, look at the frequency, nature and extent of any differences to see whether they are of practical importance. For, example, where two employees undertake the same tasks 95% of the time, the 5% difference is unlikely to be of practical importance.  
  • Once you have identified which employees are doing like work to each other, go through the remaining employees to estimate the ‘size’ and ‘weight’ of their jobs, relative to those jobs you identified as being like work and to each other. Get some help from a colleague who also knows the jobs well.
  • Focus on the demands of the job – not the abilities of the person doing it – to determine which jobs are of ‘equal value’.
  • Use your judgement to decide which jobs to compare. You don't need to compare the jobs of two employees who are clearly doing work that is not of equal value such as that of a warehouse operative and a senior executive.

Once you have completed this process, you will know which of your employees are doing equal work. 


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: 26 Aug 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.