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91. Job Evaluation Briefing




91. Job Evaluation Briefing


The aim of job evaluation is to provide a systematic and consistent approach to defining the relative worth of jobs within a workplace, single plant or multiple site organisation. It is a process whereby jobs are placed in a rank order according to overall demands placed upon the job holder. It therefore provides a basis for a fair and orderly grading structure.

Job evaluation does not determine actual pay. That is a separate operation, normally the subject of negotiation between management and employees and their trade union representatives. Only the job is evaluated, not the person doing it. It is a technique of job analysis, assessment and comparison and it is concerned with the demands of the job, such as the experience and the responsibility required to carry out the job. It is not concerned with the total volume of work, the number of people required to do it, the scheduling of work, or the ability of the job holder. Several techniques of job evaluation have developed, varying in approach. Some involve an examination of jobs according to criteria such as skill, responsibility and working conditions. Others are less complex.

Why introduce job evaluation?

  • It can be beneficial when the existing grading structure is in need of review
  • It can help establish or maintain the credibility and acceptability of a grading system
  • Job evaluation facilitates the accommodation of new or revised jobs into the grading structure
  • It can be used by organisations as a basis for job matching and external pay comparisons
  • Properly introduced and maintained job evaluation can help lay the foundation of fair and orderly pay structures and thus improve relationships.

Job evaluation and Equal Pay

The Equal Pay Act and the Equal Pay (Amendment) Regulations, make it especially important to maintain a fair and orderly grading structure. Job evaluation may be helpful as a means of ensuring that a grading structure is fair and equitable. Before undertaking job evaluation and devising an appropriate grading structure, organisations should bear in mind how equal pay legislation and equal value case law impacts on job evaluation. The case of Bromley and Others v H J Quick is of particular significance. In this case the Court of Appeal ruled that a job evaluation scheme must be analytical if it is to succeed as a defence to an equal value claim. Achieving equal pay is a key UNISON objective. It has been the main imperative behind a number of national pay initiatives with employers in recent years including the single status agreements in local government, Agenda for Change in the NHS, and new pay and grading agreements in higher and further education and the police service. Job Evaluation was part of the single status agreement in local government in Scotland in 1999, which was to be implemented by 2002. This was then extended to 2004, as the employers were unable to meet the initial date. To date no local authorities have implemented an agreed job evaluation scheme. UNISON and the other trade unions are currently pursuing a strategy to deliver pay equality in Scottish local Government using the job evaluation scheme or legal remedies as appropriate.

Joint participation

Job evaluation is most effective as a participative exercise and this in itself can improve employment relations. It is important to decide on the job evaluation system jointly with the trade unions. If the scheme is not developed in a participative way, this could lead to less employee commitment to the results. Deloitte & Touche, DLA MCG Consulting, ER Consultants, Hay Management Consultants Ltd., Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow, and Inbucon are some of the larger well-known organisations providing Job Evaluation services.

Protection of existing pay rates

Job evaluation may result in some existing employees' jobs being placed in a lower grade which does not equate with their current pay rate, some at a higher grade and some remaining at the same rate. It is recommended that a policy on how to deal with such situations should be considered and, if possible, agreement reached before embarking on job evaluation. Where it is decided that in such situations the current wage for existing employees will be retained, this process is known as 'red circling'. Although long-term red circling may be unlawful sex-discrimination.

What kind of job evaluation scheme?

Analytical - Points rating

This is a commonly used job evaluation technique. It is an analytical method which breaks down each job into a number of factors; for example, skill, responsibility and effort, with the factors sometimes being further broken down into sub-factors, for example, education, decision making and dexterity. These sub-factors will be further divided into degrees or levels. Points are awarded for each factor according to a predetermined scale and the total points decide a job's place in the ranking order. The factors should reflect the varying degrees of importance attached to them. Care must be taken to ensure that the weightings do not result in a sex-biased scheme - for example, by attaching an unjustified weighting to the physical strength factor at the expense of manual dexterity. The limitations of points rating are that it is time consuming to introduce and can be complex and costly to undertake. In addition it can be seen to be inflexible in times of rapid change and can imply an arithmetical precision which is not justified.

Evaluating remaining jobs

The validation of the factor plan against benchmark jobs is essential before evaluating all other jobs. Once the factor plan has been tested, all other jobs should be evaluated and put in rank order. The job evaluation committee should then agree the rank order of jobs from which a grading structure can be prepared, and recommend it to the appropriate joint negotiating forum.


The next stage is for the organisation to decide how to implement the conclusions, prepare a grading structure, communicate this to employees and deal with any appeals. The grading structure should be agreed by negotiation and should establish the number of grades, the span of points for each grade and the related pay ranges.


Job evaluation will involve change, even though the change may only affect some jobs. Commitment to change will be essential, with both management and trade unions agreeing from the outset that they will act upon the results. Before starting a job evaluation exercise, there needs to be agreement on the best means of regularly reporting progress. This is especially important if the exercise is to be a large or long one, or involving employees in several locations. One method is to issue regular joint bulletins. All employees affected by the proposed evaluation should be kept informed of what is happening.

Dealing with appeals

No matter how carefully the job evaluation exercise has been undertaken, there may be individual employees who consider that their job has been wrongly evaluated. A procedure for hearing appeals should therefore be established before publication of the initial results, and appeals should be heard on the basis of the agreed job description. Appeals should be made within a set time-scale and may be considered in the first instance by the original job evaluation committee.


The training of members of job evaluation panels is important, as consultants are usually only involved in the initial round of evaluations.


Job evaluation is not a once and for all exercise and procedures must be devised to keep the scheme up to date. It is essential for someone in the organisation to have a continuing knowledge of the scheme. If the scheme is not regularly maintained, the initial problems which gave rise to the need for job evaluation may re-emerge and the scheme will fall into decay and disrepute. If maintenance is carried out, the scheme will last longer and should continue to be acceptable.



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Dave Watson -

@ The P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Glasgow G26RX
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141-307 2572