COLLEGE principals and chairs are consulting trade unions on drawing up schemes to compare like-for-like jobs.
The Association of Colleges has surveyed nearly 140 colleges, and 80 per cent said they would be interested in using a job evaluation scheme developed by the AOC.
Job evaluation is widely used in the private sector. It is described by the association as a "systematic method of deciding the relative worth of different jobs in a college. The end result is a list of jobs, in points order, with the most skilful and responsible jobs at the top of the list".
Marcia Roberts. AOC director of professional services, said: "We want to ensure that all pay structures are fair and equitable, and it is often advisable to have a formal scheme."
She said it was eventually hoped to have a "single pay spine" scheme in colleges, which would involve all staff. "We have tentatively discussed this with the unions, but all of that is very long-term. It is a very softly-softly approach at the moment. Lecturers do not come from a tradition used to this kind of exercise."
NATFHE recognises that there are equal pay issues in colleges, especially because of the collapse of a standard pay structure across the sector.
Grassroots members are suspicious of any proposal which appears to be employer-led or in any way imposed. David Lott, NATFHE assistant national officer, said: "Pay banding, other unjustified bars on salary progression and part-time lecturers' hourly rates all raise important equal pay issues. Job evaluation is one of the mechanisms we are considering as a way of addressing these matters."