Case - Williams v. (1) Department for Transport (2) DVLA

1607918/2007, Employment Tribunal (London Central) - Robert Moretto

Introduction

 

Williams v. (1) Department for Transport (2) DVLA is an equal pay test case brought by hundreds of staff employed in the DVLA. The female employees in the DVLA sought to compare their pay with male driving examiners employed in the Driving Standards Agency.

The London Central Employment Tribunal has just handed down its long-awaited judgment in these cases, which were first presented to the ET back in 2007.

In its judgment, the Employment Tribunal has found for the Department for Transport and the DVLA (represented by Jennifer Eady QC and Robert Moretto) on all points in the substantive defence of these claims.

The Claims

 

The Claimants, who were working in the DVLA, argued that they should be paid the same as men employed as driving examiners in the Driving Standards Agency. The Employment Tribunal was asked to determine whether any pay differential between the two groups of staff was tainted by sex discrimination and whether the Respondent could establish its genuine material factor defences.

Employment Tribunal

 

The Employment Tribunal found that any differences in pay were genuinely due to material factors which were unrelated to gender. The Claimants had not made out a case of prima facie sex discrimination, but, even if they had, any difference in pay was objectively justified.

The pay of the driving examiners in the Driving Standards Agency was held to have been driven by the relentless pressure to recruit, which contrasted markedly with the calmer waters in which DVLA operated and in which posts actually had to be lost. There were also market factors arising from the fact that, in contrast to the Driving Standards Agency, DVLA pay was set in accordance with the Swansea context in which it operated.

The Tribunal also found that the DVLA system of performance pay addressed a real and demonstrable need to incentivise staff, and that a similar system could not have worked for the driving examiners.

In summary, the Employment Tribunal found that the pay strategies of both the DVLA and DSA were determined by a non-discriminatory assessment of the business needs of each. The aims of the strategies that were adopted over the years were legitimate and the means taken to implement those changes, and those policies, were both reasonable and proportionate.

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