By Jean Sweet – Guest Blogger U.K.
The Supreme Court decision that former Birmingham City Council workers can go ahead with compensation claims over missed bonuses is a landmark in the fight for equal pay.
The Supreme Court rejected the council’s argument the claims should have been made within six months of staff leaving their jobs.
The women were among workers who had been denied bonuses given to staff in traditionally male-dominated jobs such as refuse collectors, street cleaners, road workers and gravediggers.
The fact that equal pay claims can be made in the county court means that employees have a six years in which to lodge a claim rather than six months allowed in Industrial Tribunals. This will enable many more people to lodge claims and it has implications far beyond the city of Birmingham and beyond the the public sector. More importantly it will encourage women working in the private sector who have been reluctant to challenge employers in the past to pursue claims. The costs to employers of paying women unfairly could run into millions and millions. It will begin to redress the unfairness to women being paid thousands of pounds less than their male counterparts over numbers of years.
Quoted in the Times, Michael Newman of Leigh Day Solicitor for the claimants said, “The biggest impact could be in the banks, where women had been fearful of disrupting their chances of working in the City by bringing a case. “It is likely to hit most in sectors like banks and City jobs,” … “It will be women who didn’t get a bonus who might have thought that if they brought a claim within six months they might not have got another job in a bank. But now they might have moved on to a different sector or decide they don’t want to work for a bank again and say ‘I want to have a go at them’.”
Chris Benson, a partner at Leigh Day, said: “This is a great day for equality and for all those women massively underpaid over many years within public and private organisations. Birmingham Council should do the decent thing and settle the claims. They saved money by underpaying ex-workers for so many years, and so should now stop wasting taxpayers’ money fighting court cases they cannot win.”
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