A prison chaplain has lost a discrimination claim even though he was paid less than his Christian counterparts.

The case arose after it became apparent that on average, Christian chaplains were earning more than Muslim chaplains for doing the same work. One Muslim chaplain claimed this amounted to indirect race or religious discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal rejected the claim because it held that the wage discrepancies were due to the fact that pay scales within the Prison Service were based partly on the number of years worked.

Employees were assigned to “pay bands” on an incremental scale and could expect to progress up the bands and receive increased earnings year-by-year.

The average basic pay of Muslim chaplains on the chaplaincy pay band was lower than the average basic pay of Christian chaplains because the Prison Service had only begun to employ Muslim chaplains in 2002.

It followed that the average length of service of Christian chaplains as a group was greater than the average length of service of Muslim chaplains as a group, and the operation of the incremental pay system produced that pay differential.

The tribunal pointed out that a Christian who had started employment on the same day as a Muslim would, assuming equivalent performance, be paid the same as him.

The discrimination claim case went all the way to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the decision that the Prison Service’s practices were justifiable and there was no discrimination.

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