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Agenda for Change pay system is not sexist, rules tribunal

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A legal case claiming that the Agenda for Change pay system is sexist has failed.

The case, Hartley vs Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation was brought by the lawyer Stefan Cross and if successful, would have resulted in thousands of discrimination claims against the NHS.

Mr Cross argued that thousands of mainly male technical and support staff were paid too much under the Agenda for Change pay scales, which were introduced in 2004 to replace the old Whitley scales.

He argued this meant that many mainly female health staff on lower pay bands were not being paid enough.

But Newcastle Employment Tribunal ruled against Mr Cross after hearing evidence from employers, the government and unions.

Mike Jackson, Unison senior national officer, who gave evidence to the tribunal, said: ‘The old NHS pay system was unfair.  

‘It took years of negotiation and a lot of commitment from our members to implement the new system.  

‘The Tribunal has now agreed that it does what it set out to do deliver - equal pay.  It is a fairer and more transparent pay system.’

Health secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘I am very pleased that the Newcastle Employment Tribunal has completely rejected this challenge to Agenda for Change, the modernised pay system for the majority of NHS non medical staff, and has held that it complies fully with anti-discrimination legislation.

‘This ruling fully vindicates the detailed and lengthy planning and partnership working with the trade unions, which was undertaken before implementation of the agreement in October 2004.’

Mr Cross said: ‘It is disaster for the claimant and kills off any equal pay claims in the NHS. We will consider an appeal.’

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