Job evaluation

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) describes job evaluation as:

a method for comparing different jobs to provide a basis for a grading and pay structure. Its aim is to evaluate the job, not the jobholder, and to provide a  consistent  means of assessing the demands of a job.

This is reinforced by the advice and conciliation service ACAS who explain that a job evaluation scheme can provide a way of systematically assessing individual jobs  while avoiding prejudice or discrimination.

Methods of Job Evaluation

Several methods of job evaluation have been developed but there are basically two types: analytical and non-analytical.

Non-analytical forms include job ranking, paired comparisons of jobs and job classification. They involve comparing whole jobs with each other. They do not attempt to break jobs down and analyse their components or demands separately.

Analytical forms include points rating and job classification. They involve breaking jobs down into “factors” (components and demands) and awarding scores for each of these. Adding the scores then provides the overall ranking order of jobs.

Only analytical systems are capable of meeting good practice on equalities.

More information about these different methods can be found in the ACAS handbook, Job evaluation: considerations and risks. This can be found on its website at The Prospect document, Job evaluation and grading support (Prospect members' only), also provides further guidance.

The Hay job evaluation scheme is one of the most well-known and is widely used, especially in the private sector.. It is specifically designed for managerial  roles, assessing know-how, problem solving and accountability. Major public sector employers tend to use job evaluation schemes that have been customised for their sector.

Any job evaluation scheme is only as good as the information on which decisions are based. However, it requires a different way of thinking about job role and responsibilities. It is therefore always worth taking time to prepare properly for a job evaluation exercise and, wherever possible, to seek specialist advice.

Job Evaluation and Equal Pay

It is important to note that an analytical job evaluation scheme can provide important evidence in decisions on equal pay. The EHRC explains that: “The Equality Act 2010 defines a job evaluation scheme as a study undertaken to evaluate the jobs being done in an undertaking ‘in terms of the demands made on a person by reference to factors such effort, skill and decision-making.” A woman’s work is rated as equivalent to a man’s if their jobs are given equal value “in terms of the demands made on a worker’, or would have been given equal value if a non-discriminatory system had been used.”

Job evaluation can also provide an employer with a defence against an equal pay claim, but only if they can demonstrate that it is free from gender  bias. Carrying out a non-analytical job evaluation scheme will not provide a defence against a claim of equal pay for work of equal value.

The Benefits and Advantages of Job Evaluation

Some of the benefits and advantages of job evaluation are as follows (if it is done well):

  • It is a systematic and consistent process;
  • It can help to establish or maintain credibility and acceptance of a grading system;
  • It can help to accommodate new or revised jobs into a grading structure; and
  • It can help lay the foundations for a fair and orderly pay structure, especially if based on an open and transparent process.

The Disadvantages and Limitations of Job Evaluation

However, there can also be disadvantages:

  • It is time consuming;
  • It can cause anxiety and raise expectations; and
  • It can result in existing employees’ jobs being placed in a lower grade.

ACAS also sets out its limitations:

  • It is not scientific,
  • It is not an exact measurement of duties or tasks performed,
  • It is not a way of measuring a job holder’s performance; and
  • It does not  address issues of job loading.

Why unions should be involved in job evaluation

The TUC and a number of individual trade unions, including Prospect, provide training on job evaluation  and union representatives can therefore provide valuable input into the process. Informing and involving union representatives about job evaluation can help to ensure that the process is transparent and is seen to be fair. In addition, it is vital that staff have confidence in the process. Having well informed trade union representatives who are able to advise, support and accompany staff in meetings can help to achieve this.

What should I do if the organisation announces it is undertaking a job evaluation exercise?

Job evaluation should be a joint process with employees and their representatives fully involved in the process.

If you work in a trade-union recognised workplace and your employer announces a job evaluation exercise, contact your trade union representative or full-time official. The union should be fully involved in job evaluation and they should be able to tell you how employees and union representatives are going to be involved in any job evaluation committees, working groups or steering committees being set up to guide the process and how you will be informed about developments throughout the exercise.

If trade unions are not recognised in your workplace, you can find out about best practice in the ACAS publication, Job Evaluation: An Introduction available at

This is intended to assist anyone dealing with or affected by the process of job evaluation. 

Good practice means:

  • Ensuring that employees are involved in and understand the job evaluation process. Even if there are no trade union representatives present in the workplace, job evaluation should still still involve employee or staff representatives on any steering committees, job evaluation committees or working groups;
  • Ensuring that all employees, including managers and supervisors, are fully informed about the process, receive information and guidance about the job evaluation scheme being used and progress through regular reports, bulletins or briefings
  • The process is transparent, with documentation available;
  • There is a right to appeal job evaluation decisions; and
  • Decisions are implemented following consultation and negotiation.