Pay comparisons and the classifications/groupings used

The aims of the pay survey as the starting point for forming comparison groups

As a basis for the pay comparison, employees are divided into groups formed on certain grounds. When carrying out a pay survey it must first be decided which classification or employee grouping system will be used to collect and record the salary data.

According to the Equality Act, the grouping can be done according to difficulty level or work duties, or the classification can be based on groups based on some other criteria.

When selecting the employee groups to be compared, the purpose of the pay survey should always be taken into account. As different workplaces use very different remuneration systems, it should be assessed for each employer what comparisons are needed to determine that there are no unjustified pay differences between women and men.

Issues will be caused by not only excessively restricted comparisons but also ones that are overly inclusive. For example it is not enough to simply assess the salaries of women and men and the difference in pay between them for the entire personnel so that the entire personnel are divided into women and men.

Comparisons within and between groups based on work duties

Equal pay means treating women and men equally regarding pay, not only within groups of employees doing the same work, but also between groups of employees doing work of equal value.

One of the aims of the pay survey is to find out whether or not work of the same level of difficulty is treated equally regarding pay. Therefore the employer should have or establish a picture of which jobs are as difficult, i.e. of the same value. When defining which jobs are of equal value, it is recommended to use an assessment system for job demands, even if this is not required by the Equality Act. According to the draft of the Equality Act factors that should be taken into consideration when comparing jobs are the quality and contents of the duties, as well as working conditions. Important criteria that are often mentioned are skill, responsibility, stress and working conditions.

Equal pay also requires that female and male employees are treated equally regarding various fringe benefits. It is important not only to examine how the supplementary allowances are divided between female and male employees within the employee groups, but also to find out which employee groups and on what grounds different types of supplementary allowances are paid.

Assessment based on level of difficulty

The justification for the Equality Act states that in particular in situations where the entire personnel is included in the same assessment of job difficulty, a classification based on difficulty is the most logical basis for carrying out a pay survey.  In this case the premise and assumption is that duties of the same value are already placed in the same group according to difficulty within the workplace's remuneration system. Assessing the placement of duties within the system is a logical part of the pay survey.

Even when employees are classified by difficulty level, the pay survey should indicate which tasks each difficulty level includes and how men and women are placed within the groups. This would provide a clearer picture of e.g. how female-dominated and male-dominated duties are placed within the remuneration system. As a remuneration system is usually based on several decisions which often may have been made over a long period of time, it should also be ensured that employees are placed in the correct groups regarding duties carried out by female and male employees.

Comparisons across collective agreements

An assessment of whether equal pay has been achieved between women and men and whether work of the same level of difficulty is treated equally should also be carried out when salaries are based on different collective agreements. Different duties should be placed at the correct level within the remuneration system when assessed on the basis of the quality and content of the tasks as well as working conditions. The assessment must take into account the characteristics of male-dominated and female-dominated work.

In some cases the implementation of equality between employees who are covered by different collective agreements can be assessed on a general level based on e.g. whether or not jobs that have been placed on the same pay levels according to the salary amount in euros can be considered to be of equal value. Sometimes, e.g. regarding manager positions, jobs that are covered by different collective agreements can be so similar that it may be enough to compare and assess the differences between the duties when comparing the jobs.