The issue of equal pay is one that South African employers and employees are grappling with at the workplace. Many of these issues are now ending up at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The CCMA case below starts to grapple with some of the issues.

In the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union obo Sinxo and others / Agricultural Research Council (2017) 26 CCMA also reported at [2017] 5 BALR 542 case the comparators (employees doing the same work) were paid more due to their identical qualifications.

The regulations specified educational level as one of the factors that might justify a difference in wages. No single factor is decisive. In this case, the work was practical and the employees had performed it satisfactorily for about 15 years.

A difference in pay in these circumstances was not rational. Furthermore, educational qualifications are not necessarily a neutral factor in determining equal pay because historically school pass rates have been skewed in favour of whites, especially in rural areas.

The arbitrator concluded that being paid less than colleagues after years of loyal service solely – because of the lack of an educational qualification -impacts on the dignity of the lower paid worker. The employees had therefore been unfairly discriminated against in not receiving equal pay.

The employer was ordered to pay the employees the salaries attached to the mid-point of grade 7 of the organisation.

You have a right of appeal to the Labour Court on discrimination cases. It is one of the first cases that start to unpack the issue of qualification as a discriminatory barrier. If you artificially set the level of qualifications at an artificial level that is discrimination.

Contact Global Business Solutions About Equal Pay

Although the equal pay aspect of the Employment Equity Act has been around for over five years, it still causes much confusion. Let Natalie Singer, our equal pay specialist, help you get your equal pay matters sorted out. Follow this link to contact her and the rest of the GBS team.