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The Cost of Equal Pay
A recent Supreme Court ruling that 170 women and four men who worked for Birmingham City Council will be able to bring an equal pay case through the civil courts rather than an employment tribunal opens the way for other workers to pursue equal pay compensation claims, extending the time limit from six months to six years.

The former council employees, who left their jobs as cooks, cleaners and care staff between 2004 and 2008, are demanding compensation, claiming the council denied them the extra payments and benefits given to men doing similar jobs.

This ruling is significant because the council had tried to block the claims, arguing that they should have been made in front an employment tribunal, which has a six-month time limit. The former employees launched, and won, an action for damages in the High Court, which has a time limit of six years for claims cases.

The landmark ruling could potentially pave the way for many similar claims, so it is important for employers to review their pay structures - including bonus payment schemes - to ensure that they are justifiable and fair. It is not just about paying people the same for doing the same job – but ensuring that people doing jobs of equal value are paid on the same basis too.

However, one deterrent for employees is that civil claims are much more complex and time consuming compared to tribunal proceedings. And claimants would also face the risk of significant costs implications if their claims are unsuccessful.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016

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