The test case, which argues that the Agenda for Change (AfC) process has discriminated against women, will go ahead in autumn, it has been announced.
NT understands the employment tribunal will be used to set a precedent for more than 13,700 other equal pay cases across the health service. These cases have been put on hold pending the outcome of Hartley versus Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
The case argues that AfC uncovered inequalities in pay for women working in the health service and that they are owed back pay as a result.
According to lawyer Stefan Cross, who is presenting the case to the tribunal, the AfC banding system is also inherently sexist.
Mr Cross contends that thousands of technical staff, mainly men, were placed in higher pay bands during the job evaluation process. Around half of the cases being brought are by nursing staff, he added.
‘You have got lots of women on bands 1 and 2, while the men moved up,’ he told NT. ‘That is discriminatory because it is often women who have been put on lower bands. That means women have to go through all the pay points while men do not.’
Josie Irwin, RCN head of employment relations, said the case had widespread implications. ‘[Mr Cross] is challenging the whole system,’ she said. ‘We have all got an interest in the outcome.’
An NHS Employers spokesperson said: ‘The outcome of this test case will indicate how other claims with common issues will be dealt with. For this reason all other claims have been put on hold with respect to these issues until the outcome of the test case is known.’
Pre-hearing reviews for the case are set to go ahead between 6 October and 21 November this year. The test case applies only to equal pay claims involving AfC.