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It is not easy to imagine that the grumblings of a group of judges about their pay could be of wider relevance to other employers but the recent case of Ministry of Justice v Dodds is an exception. Part-time workers have a right not to be treated less favourably than comparable full-time ones. The judges in this case claimed that when, on occasion, they had to work in higher courts, they were part-time workers in the higher position and should be paid at the same rate as full-time judges in the higher role. This argument was successful in the Employment Tribunal but the Employment Appeal Tribunal did not agree.

The EAT did not think that the judges were part-time workers in the higher roles which they were asked to ‘sit-up’ in. It followed that they could not claim less favourable treatment as part-time workers and compare their rate of pay whilst ‘sitting up’ with that of permanent full-time judges in the higher court. The EAT said that  acting-up in a higher court on occasion was not a different employment which could be looked at separately from their main role. It was just part of their job. 

If a different decision had been reached this could have had far-reaching consequences for all employers with employees whose role may, on occasion, involve them working in a higher (and better paid) position. Employers would be faced with either having to increase pay rates every time they temporarily took on some more senior duties or avoid the possibility of them having to act-up at all. Luckily ‘justice’ appears to have been done in this case!

Find out how we can help.  Our partner, Jon Dunkley, heads the Wollens specialist Employment Department.  Contact him today for an informal chat, without obligation on 01271 342268 or via email at [email protected].