Sex and Pay in the Federal Government: Using Job Evaluation Systems to Implement Comparable Worth

By Doris M. Werwie | Go to book overview

divisions, most notably for female-dominated clerical positions. Employees would be hired at a grade level and their pay increases would then be determined by their immediate supervisor's assessment of their performance. Given current budget cuts, it seems unlikely that these discretionary increases would be allocated to clerical jobs rather than to jobs in the male-dominated scientific division.

The new system also has other implications. Under the old system, classification and pay for performance are separate. An employee is assigned to a job with a set grade. The criteria for setting this grade are explicit and standards are fairly consistent throughout the government. Employees are then given within-grade step increases for performance, which are determined by management. The new system would combine these two functions. It would also narrow and possibly lower the entry grades of all jobs, and make pay-for-performance increases larger and at the discretion of lower level management.

This new "Pay for Performance System" can be seen as an attempt by the Reagan Administration to alter the Federal Pay System, under the guise of a comparable worth review. Actually, the effect would be to increase the existing pay gap between male- and female-dominated jobs.


SUMMARY

This overview of the legal and legislative issues related to pay equity in general and in the federal sector specifically shows the extensive changes that are occurring at many levels: in legal interpretation of existing laws, in political action at the state and city levels, and in resistance to these changes. It will become increasingly important to examine and understand changes in legislation and job evaluation methodologies that are proposed to establish pay equity because, as will be documented in the following chapters, the new systems may replicate the old pay relationships or worse, increase the pay gap between male- and female-dominated jobs.

The next chapter reviews the development of the federal government's job evaluation system and provides a discussion of the basic components of job evaluation systems in general.

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