Equal pay claims about to hit Croydon council


Pic: Madison Guy

50 equal pay claims are about to hit Croydon council in the wake of a ground-breaking ruling against Birmingham council.

49 women and one man issued equal pay claims in October 2010 and are set to follow them through now they have seen the outcome of the case earlier this month regarding the largest local authority in Europe.

Speaking to EastLondonLines, Chris Benson partner in the Employment team at Leigh Day & Co and solicitor for the 174 employees claiming from Birmingham council said: “We have fifty claims already lodged against the London borough of Croydon and will be taking those forward in light of the judgment. We would also hope those claims can be resolved amicably.”

A spokesman for Croydon council said: “All we are able to say at this stage is that we will assess each case brought to us in its own merits.”

In a statement on their website, law firm Leigh Day & Co claim: “The judgment effectively extends the time limit of equal pay claims from six months to six years, the biggest change to Equal Pay legislation since it was introduced in 1970.”

A change in the way claims are dealt with would mean that workers can make a claim through civil courts dating back up to six years. At present, employees need to go through tribunals and the time limit on claims is six months after leaving that job.

Birmingham City Council are now left with one million pound legal costs after appealing twice and losing in the Supreme Court.  They claimed that these sorts of issues should be solved in employment tribunals.

It was heard in court that between 2007 and 2008, thousands of pounds were paid out to former employees by the council.

Cooks, cleaners and carers had been denied the pay that the more traditionally male roles, such as street sweepers and road workmen, were receiving.

Regarding the Birmingham case Benson 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 now 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.”

The BBC said that this example “Could open the door for more women to launch equal pay claims.”

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