Homes England ordered to pay £24,000 in equal pay case

Homes England equal payHomes England has lost an equal pay case against a senior employee who was paid £14,000 less than her male colleagues.

Jennifer Owen joined the organisation as a quantity surveyor in November 2020 on a salary of £51,258 per year, which was the minimum in her pay band. She was told by her employer that she could not negotiate a higher wage within this band.

However, her colleague Thomas Birch was hired as a quantity surveyor five months earlier on a salary of £65,000, after successfully negotiated a salary at the upper end of the band. Owen discovered the pay difference in November 2021 and complained, but was told that correct policies were applied when they were both hired and that there was no sex discrimination in salaries.

Owen was promoted to a regional programme lead in April 2022 and was given a 10% additional responsibility allowance, taking her salary to £56,383 per year. Despite then reporting to Owen, Birch continued to earn £9,000 more than her. Her job role was regraded in October that year and her salary increased to £62,022.

Homes England told the tribunal that men in similar roles earned an average of £50,874, while women earned £52,188. It also said that there had been a change in policy about where new recruits could be placed in the pay band during the second half of 2020, but the tribunal found that there was no written evidence of this.

Judge Roper said: “It is not clear what the respondent’s defence of material factor is with regard to this decision. The rather vague evidence of the respondent on this point was that the change in policy had been decreed verbally by the HR department and that managers were now encouraged to recruit at the lowest level for the band.”

Sign up to our newsletters

Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Homes England was ordered to pay Owen £24,000, which consists of £19,000 in back pay, £2,490.30 interest, and an Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service uplift of £2,509.70.

Homes England was contacted for comment prior to publication.