Does an equality clause remain in place even if the comparator is promoted out of the role?
Yes, held the EAT in Reading Borough Council v James.
A group of the Council’s female employees brought claims under the Equal Pay Act (as it was) seeking to equalise pay from 2002 to judgment, asserting the work they performed was of equal value to a male employee, C, who worked as a highways operative.
The Council challenged the duration sought, arguing as C had been promoted in 2006, from that time he ceased to be a valid comparator and the claimants would have to rely on less favourable comparators. They contended those claims should be curtailed to 2006. The tribunal disagreed, ordering pay for the full duration and the Council appealed.
The EAT held, dismissing the appeal,the presence of other comparators did not undermine the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. Once the conditions for the equality clause were satisfied in 2002, it took effect and amended a Claimants contracts to equalise them. No temporal limitation or other provision of the Act restricted this. This would continue until such time as the claimants’ contracts were validly terminated or varied.
Thanks to Barnaby Large of No.18 Barristers Chambers for preparing this case summary.