Departing from the Advocate-General's opinion, the ECJ held that it is not necessary for an employer to provide objective justification for pay disparities which arise as the result of 'length of service' criteria. The two key points from the judgment are:
- "since, as a general rule, recourse to the criterion of length of service is appropriate to attain the legitimate objective of rewarding experience acquired which enables the worker to perform his duties better, the employer does not have to establish specifically that recourse to that criterion is appropriate to attain that objective as regards a particular job, unless the worker provides evidence capable of raising serious doubts in that regard"
- "where a job classification system based on an evaluation of the work to be carried out is used in determining pay, there is no need to show that an individual worker has acquired experience during the relevant period which has enabled him to perform his duties better."
The case will now (October 2006) go back to the Court of Appeal to decide whether the points raised on behalf of Mrs. Cadman amount to "serious doubts" as to whether it was "appropriate" for the HSE to use of length of service in setting pay levels designed "to attain the legitimate objective of rewarding experience acquired which enables the worker to perform his duties better".
With thanks to www.emplaw.co.uk for allowing me to reproduce their case summary
Cadman v Health & Safety Executive