Equal pay for equal work


Why do people on the same job grade get different levels of pay when the law says they should be paid the same? Equal pay entitles people doing work of equal value as rated by job evaluation to the same wage. This is often, though not entirely a gender issue since there are cases where women are not remunerated for the same work as their men counterparts. Employees need to realize that they are entitled to the same pay as anyone doing the same or broadly similar, or a job of equal value, regardless of gender. People doing the same job should receive the same pay regardless of their gender because the law stipulates so. However, the differences in pay are justifiable if they are based on merit system, incentive system, seniority as well as any other factor apart from sex. The aim of the paper is to examine why people doing the same job earn differently and the need to ensure that people get equal pay. The essay begins by describing the possible reasons why people doing the same job earn differently. Next, the discussion focuses on the need for paying people equally for doing the same job and the theories that are applicable in the process. The essay then concludes with a summary of the main points discussed.


Explanation and Demonstration of Moral Reasoning

The need to pay people equally for the same work is a labor-right concept where those doing a similar work get similar remuneration. The concept has often been used in the context of sexual discrimination, regarding gender pay gap. Apparently, equal pay entails the range of payments and benefits, such as basic pay, bonuses, allowances, and non-salary payments. History indicates that as labor wage became more formalized during the industrial revolution, the women were paid compared with what their male counterparts received for the same labor. Therefore, the principle of equal pay for equal work was initiated at the time when feminism wave became evident.

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Completing the same job as a colleague yet not receiving same wage appears unfair. Even though it is normal to expect what is believed to be a fair share of ones skills and talents, there have been arguments, especially by human resource practitioners, why an employee earns less than a counterpart doing a similar job. Legally, there should not be a large wage gap between an employee and colleague for doing the same job.

One of the reasons for unequal pay for people doing the same job is education and experience. It is common for companies to pay their employees according to a specified scale. Qualified candidates with greater amounts of education and experience than those with the basic requirements are likely to earn more money. Even though fairness implies paying employees the same amount for comparable experience and education, it can also mean unequal pay based on performance or different experience and educational background. Therefore, a coworker with a higher degree than colleagues may earn higher. Besides, there are companies that offer bonuses to their employees who earn degrees. Merit systems reward employees for their exceptional performance. Merit systems can be valid if employees are evaluated regularly according to predetermined objective criteria, for instance, ability, accuracy, and efficiency.

Employees can belong to the same pay grade, but one or more of the employees can more senior than the others based on experience or length of service. Some companies offer their employees yearly bonuses as a strategy to enhance employee retention. Consequently, a coworker with the same position but has worked at the company for more years, annual bonuses could be the reason why they earn more for doing the same job. In such a circumstance, unequal pay can be justifiable, particularly if it is applied to all employees. However, if the seniority system allows supervisors to arbitrarily authorize exceptions to prolonged existence pay increase based on sex differences, then such a system is not justifiable.

Some companies consider specific skills that employees have in performing their job assignments. As a consequence those who possess desired skills may get higher pay even if they do the same job with their coworkers. For instance, there are employees who may be monolingual while others may be multilingual. If job assignments require employees who are multilingual, then a monolingual employee may be paid less. Similarly, a computer science professional with additional certifications may earn more than coworkers who doing the same job, but without additional certifications. Furthermore, a coworker doing the same basic work as his or her colleagues may have additional responsibilities which are not known to the rest, thus, such an employee can earn more in the process.

Other companies have productivity or incentive systems that reward employees according to quantity or quality of production. For example, a processing clerk can be paid at a particular rate for the documents produced. Also, sales person can be paid commission rates based on the number of sales that they make every month. Pay can also differ because of the working conditions, which encompass factors such as physical surroundings and hazards. There are employees, whose physical surroundings expose to increased temperatures, fumes or ventilation. Among the hazards that an employee can be exposed to, may include; exposure to radiation, unguarded machinery, electrical hazards, spills or tripping hazards, biological hazards, awkward movements, sexual harassment, and liquid cleaning products. Employees who are exposed to such hazards and physical environments may be paid higher than their colleagues doing similar jobs, but without the risks.

The Theories Applicable in this Essay

Virtue ethics are a broad category for theories that emphasize the role of character and virtue in moral philosophy instead of doing ones duty or acting in a way that brings out good consequences. Virtue ethics are inspired from Aristotle who believed that virtuous persons are those who have ideal character traits. The virtue-based ethic applicable in this analysis is Eudemonism. Eudemonia is an Aristotelian term that is loosely translated as happiness. According to Aristotle, actions cannot be pointless if they have an objective. Every action has some good. Therefore, paying an employee more when he or she does the same job as others in the same grade aims at achieving some good in the end.

Aristotle argues that things that are ends in themselves contribute to an end that is greatest good of all. The good in itself is what is known as eudemonia. Therefore, Eudemonia is happiness, fulfillment, and contentment; the best kind of life that is an end in itself, a means to live or fare well. Where a thing has a good function, it performs its function well. Therefore, a man has a function and the good man is he or she who performs his function well. The reason is the function of man while the life that is distinctive of human is the life that is in accordance with reason. Thus, if men get their purpose in reasoning, then those who are able to reason well are better, and that is the life of eudemonia or excellence.

Eudemonistic virtue ethics reverses the relationship that exists between virtue and rightness. Virtue is justified because the values that it brings out. The eudemonist virtue ethics are justified because of their constitutive nature, implying that they encourage human flourishing and wellbeing, which are considered good in themselves. It is the nature of human beings to behave rationally. This characteristic allows human beings to make decisions, change characters and be held responsible for the decisions made. Acting virtuously is acting the characteristic way of human beings that leads to eudemonia. Therefore, the virtues benefit the possessor. Eudemonist virtue ethics is not applied in opposition to self-interest; instead, it forms the typical part of human flourishing. It is not that virtues lead to the good life, but a virtuous life is the good life because of rational capacities, and its own reward is virtue.

On the other hand, Deontologists have relied on the basis of metaphysics of morals to discuss, for instance, Kants moral theory. Kantian theory to some extent is similar to Aristotelian virtue. For instance, Kant stresses the significance of education, habituation, as well as gradual development. The three ideas have been used by modern highlight the plausibility of the theory. Kantians believe that the appropriate development is a virtuous character that helps to formulate appropriate theories for testing. The first notable difference between Kantian and Aristotle virtue ethics is that Kantian is a struggle against emotions. Kant argues that moral worth comes mainly from duty of motive. The motive is a struggle against inclination. Undoubtedly, this differs from the Aristotelian conception of harmony between reason and desire. The second difference is that Kant does not believe in weakness of will, however, it is understood in the Aristotelian sense of the difference between continence and incontinence. Indeed, Kant focuses on strength of will and failing to do so is considered self-deception.

Objection of Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Theory

The first objection to the virtue ethics theory is its self-centeredness. Ethics is supposed to be about other people. It often deals with the actions that affect other people. Ethical praise or blame are apportioned based on the evaluation of how people behave towards other, and the way that behavior is exhibited and concern for the wellbeing of others. Therefore, virtue ethics is self-centered for the reason that its main concern is with the character of the gent. In essence, virtue ethics is interested in acquiring virtues as part of well-being and flourishing of the agent. Ethics require that others be considered for their own sake, but not because of the benefits that they bring. Well-being does not allow comparison with other people, therefore, it cannot play eudemonists role. Moreover, virtues consider others, for instance, kindness is how the needs of others are responded to. Virtue ethics unifies the requirements of ethics with the requirements of self-interest.

The second objection to the virtue ethics theory is on action-guiding. Usually, morality is focused on practical issues. Virtue ethics criticize deontologist theories for their rigidity and inflexibility because of their reliance on one principle or rule. The reply to this argument is that deontological theories are action guiding. Apparently, the rigidity is not a weakness; instead it is strength because of the clear direction that they give regarding what should be done. The objection to virtue ethics is because of its emphasis on inaccurate nature of ethics thereby failing to give practical ways of behaving. The theory des not guide action; therefore, it cannot be a good moral theory. Virtue ethics consisting of the right reason and the right desire are action guiding, particularly if the reasons can perceived as right and habituate desires to assert its commands.


People doing the same job and are in the same job grade are supposed to get the same pay according to employment laws. However, this has not been the case in a number of instances, particularly where some employees have special or additional skills, have more work experience, more qualified than others, or where employees are exposed to greater risks. The important theories that are applicable in describing equal pay for equal work includes; Virtue ethics, particularly eudemonism and deontology theories. Nonetheless, there have been objections to the virtue ethics theory because of its self-centeredness and failure to be action guiding.

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