Why a colleague in the same position as you can earn more money

Do you know what criteria are applied to conclude equality? (Pexel.com)

It may seem like a rhetorical question, but it's not...

Fact: Your employer may be well in their right to pay you less than your colleague.


It’s true! SagePastel Payroll & HR says that it’s not unfair for you to earn a different salary than your colleague even if you’re in the same position. However, this is on condition that the varying salaries are not based on discrimination.

Protecting the employee

Towards the end of 2014, when the Employment Equity Amendment Act 47 of 2013 and the Employment Equity Relations came into effect, the Draft Code of Good Practice on Equal Pay Value was delivered.

The code provides employers and employees alike, with practical guidelines on how to implement equal compensation for work of equal value. It also protects against pay discrimination, especially if the discrimination is based on gender race and disability.

Understanding the bigger picture

It’s all good and well to think that because you and your colleague do the same amount of work, you should be equally compensated. But do you know what criteria is applied to conclude equality? Section 5.3 of the code lists the criteria as follows:

- the responsibility demanded of the work, including responsibility for people, finances and material

- the formal and informal skills and qualifications required to perform the work;

- the physical, mental and emotional requirements of the work.

Also, it is important that you consider the physical and psychological conditions under which your job is performed. The geographical location can also count in some assessments.

When is it justifiable to pay different wages?

Section 7 of the code lists the factors that determine when employees can be compensated differently. These include:

- the individuals’ seniority or duration of service

- the individuals’ qualifications, skills, and their potential above the minimum acceptable levels required for the job;

- the individuals’ performance, which includes both their quality and quantity of work. This factor is based on the condition that employees are equally subject to the employer’s performance evaluation system and no discrimination is applied during grading;

- where an employee is demoted due to company restructuring (or other legitimate reasons) without a reduction in remuneration (and the employee’s salary is fixed at this level until the other employees in the same job category reach the same level);

- where an individual is employed temporarily in a position in order to gain on-the-job experience or training, and is subject to different employment terms and conditions compared to full-time employees;

- where there is a shortage of the relevant skill in a particular job classification;

- any other relevant factor that does not unfairly discriminate.

Knowing your worth

Although the Draft Code of Good Practice on Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value protects your pay rights, when all is said and done, if you do not do your research before accepting a job offer you will be underpaid. Even if your employer offers you your desired salary, without negotiation you will be underpaid.

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