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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Appeal Court ruling on equal pay claims could open floodgates

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A landmark Court of Appeal decision could now pave the way for a raft of equal pay claims by both private and public sector workers seeking to pursue compensation.

Three appeal judges ruled yesterday that claims made by 174 former female employees of Birmingham City Council could be heard in the High Court as well as at an employment tribunal.
 
The ruling is significant because it means that workers who thought that their claims were outside of the usual six-month tribunal time limit now have six years in which to go to the High Court.
 
Law firm Leigh Day & Co, which represented the 174 women, said that tens of thousands of pounds were paid out to other female ex-employees of the Council in compensation during 2007 and 2008. But only staff who still worked for the local authority or had left within the last six months had believed that they were now eligible to make claims.
 
As a result, the latest ruling opened the way for a lot of potential compensation claims from both public and private sector workers, the company said.
 
The women that it represented, who worked in roles ranging from cooks and cleaners to care staff, claimed that they had been excluded from receiving the bonuses given to personnel in traditionally male-dominated roles such as refuse collectors and road workers.
 
Birmingham had appealed against a deputy High Court judge’s verdict in December last year, which stated that the High Court did have the necessary jurisdiction to settle the claims.
 
But the appeal judges ruled unanimously that the Council had failed to establish that the deputy judge’s ruling on the 1970 Equal Pay Act was wrong or in any way flawed. In fact, one of the judges, Lord Justice Mummery claimed that the courts were being asked to “stifle claims” for the “convenience” of the Council.
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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