The issue of Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value is one that South African employers and employees are grappling with in the workplace.
What this principle means is that employers – who have individuals in their employ who perform the same or substantially similar work – must not give them different terms and conditions of their employment.
In other words, there must be no difference in their remuneration unless there are justifiable reasons for this difference and the employer can justify these differentials. Hence the term ‘Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value’.
Many cases dealing with the Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value are now ending up at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The CCMA case below starts to grapple with this new amendment in the Employment Equity Act (EEA).
Facts Of This Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value Case
In the case of National Education Health and Allied Workers Union obo Sino and others v Agricultural Research Council (2017) 26 CCMA also reported at  5 BALR 542 the comparators (employees performing the same work) were paid more because of their qualifications.
The Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value regulations specify 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 because historically, school pass rates have been skewed in favour of whites. This is 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.
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 in discrimination cases. This is one of the first cases that starts to unpack the issue of qualification as a discriminatory barrier. If you artificially set the level of qualifications at a false level, this is discrimination.