Females win landmark equal pay victory

A landmark Supreme Court ruling means that equal-pay disputes can be heard in the civil courts, not just employment tribunals, for the first time. Over 170 women, who worked in low-paying jobs for Birmingham City Council, claim that they were paid less than their male colleagues and have won the right to have their cases heard in the courts. This could have implications for thousands of workers, and could mean that female employees at local authorities across the country could potentially receive payouts for pay discrimination.

Equal-pay disputes have generally been heard in employment tribunals, which only deal with cases brought within six months of leaving a place of work. However the ruling means that future disputes can be heard in civil courts which has a longer six-year time frame in which a case can be brought.

The dispute over equal pay at Birmingham City Council has been running for over three years. The female employees who brought the case to court were employed in roles such as cleaners, cooks, caterers and care staff, and claimed that they were excluded from bonuses that were given to male employees. Between 2007 and 2008, Birmingham City Council ended up paying thousands of pounds in compensation to women bringing the claim, but only those who did so within the six month period of leaving their jobs. Those left out of the original compensation took their case to the High Court.

The law firm Leigh Day & Co., who represents the women, declared the ruling as “historic.” In a statement, the firm said the judgement:

“…Effectively extends the time limit for equal-pay claims from six months to six years, the biggest change to equal pay legislation since it was introduced in 1970, with huge implications for thousands of workers”.

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Minister for Women and Equality scraps Harman’s equality law

Theresa May - Home Secretary and minister for ...

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Theresa May favours “fairness” over “equality”

In a glorious act of doublethink, the Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May has scrapped a key piece of legislation under the Equality Act, favouring a greater emphasis on the dubious word “fairness” rather than “equality”. Perhaps she misread her job title.

The legislation was a legal requirement that would have forced public authorities to take disadvantage and inequalities into account, to assess whether or not they were addressing inequalities when making policy decisions. The measure was an important part of the Equality Act passed earlier this year by Labour’s former minister for equalities, Harriet Harman. Theresa May dismissed the legislation as “ridiculous” and described the measure as “socialism in one clause”.

“They thought they could make people’s lives better by simply passing a law saying that they should be made better”, May said. Clearly Harman had been taking her job title too seriously when she passed the equality measure, a trap May is ensuring she does not fall into. The problem with the word ‘equality’, May went on, “is that it has been seen to mean equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity”. Which is clearly a bad thing. Continue reading