Reviewing the suitability of affirmative action and the inherent requirements of the job as grounds of justification to equal pay claims in terms of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998
The Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 ("EEA") has been amended to include a specific provision dealing with equal pay claims in the form of section 6(4). Section 6(4) of the EEA prohibits unfair discrimination in terms and conditions of employment between employees performing the same or substantially the same work or work of equal value. The Minister of Labour has issued Regulations and a Code to assist with the implementation of the principle of equal pay. Both the Regulations and the Code set out the criteria for assessing work of equal value as well as the grounds of justification to a claim of equal pay for work of equal value (factors justifying differentiation in terms and conditions of employment). The EEA refers to two grounds of justification in respect of unfair discrimination claims, namely affirmative action and the inherent requirements of the job. There is support for the view that these grounds of justification are not suitable to equal pay claims. There is a contrary view that these grounds of justification can apply to equal pay claims. The Labour Courts have not had the opportunity to analyse these grounds of justification in the context of equal pay claims. It is thus necessary to analyse these grounds of justification in order to ascertain whether they provide justifications proper to equal pay claims.
The purpose of this article is to analyse the grounds of justification of pay discrimination as contained in South African law, the Conventions and Materials of the International Labour Organisation and the equal pay laws of the United Kingdom. Lastly, an analysis will be undertaken to determine whether affirmative action and the inherent requirements of the job provide justifications proper to equal pay claims.
Keywords: Equal pay; Employment Equity Act; Equality Act; International Labour Organisation; Equal Pay Guide; Equal Remuneration Convention; grounds of justification to equal pay; affirmative action; inherent requirements of the job