Blackburn and another v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police [2008] EWCA Civ 1208 CA

equal pay | like work | justification

The Court of Appeal has held that paying bonuses to employees who worked night shifts did not constitute sex discrimination.

The claimants were female police officers who received less pay than their male comparator for doing like work, as a result of a bonus that he was paid for working night shifts. The claimants were not able to work night shifts because of their childcare responsibilities.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) overturned the employment tribunal decision that the employer was in breach of the Equal Pay Act 1970. The EAT found that there is nothing in the Equal Pay Act 1970 that requires an employer to treat women as though they have carried out work that they have not done. It is not a function of the Act to compensate those who have childcare responsibilities for the economic disadvantages that they suffer.

The Court of Appeal agreed. It found that the case was a straightforward one and the EAT's decision correct. The employer had the legitimate aim of rewarding employees who did night work. It was difficult to see how that objective would be furthered if employees who did not do night work were paid the same amount.

Case transcript of Blackburn and another v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police (on the BAILII website)

Go to XpertHR case law stop press.