£1.25bn equal pay fi­asco near­ing end of the road

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

BIRM­ING­HAM City Coun­cil’s equal pay night­mare is near­ing an end, hav­ing cost £1.25 bil­lion and crip­pled the au­thor­ity for more than a decade.

At a spe­cial cab­i­net meet­ing on Mon­day, coun­cil­lors were briefed on the lat­est po­si­tion re­gard­ing the long-run­ning saga.

Clive Hea­phy, the coun­cil’s cor­po­rate di­rec­tor for fi­nance and gov­er­nance, stated a fur­ther £150 mil­lion had been set aside to set­tle any out­stand­ing claims.

He added that equal pay “con­tin­ued to be a drain on re­sources which was not good for mo­rale, union re­la­tion­ships or the fi­nances”.

The meet­ing went into pri­vate ses­sion for the cab­i­net to agree a strat­egy on an­tic­i­pated fu­ture le­gal ac­tion.

The coun­cil has faced thou­sands of equal pay claims since 2006, brought mainly by fe­male em­ploy­ees who missed out on bonuses.

The re­port to cab­i­net out­lin­ing the le­gal back­ground said: “The Equal Pay Act 1970 (Equal­ity Act 2010) was an un­der-utilised piece of leg­is­la­tion at a time when it was not un­com­mon for em­ploy­ers to give dif­fer­ent rates of pay as be­tween men and women per­form­ing the same job or to re­serve the higher paid jobs for men and the lower paid jobs for women.

“How­ever, not un­til the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Na­tional Sin­gle Sta­tus Agree­ment in 1997 and the Agenda for Change Agree­ment in 2004 was at­ten­tion fo­cused on pay struc­tures within lo­cal author­i­ties and NHS trusts.

“Equal pay was brought into the pub­lic arena with le­gal firms is­su­ing claims for equal pay in or about 2000 but not in Birm­ing­ham un­til 2006/7.

“Sin­gle Sta­tus in Birm­ing­ham was im­ple­mented with ef­fect from April 1, 2008 and this was de­signed to re­move unequal pay in the coun­cil.

“Equal pay law en­ti­tles a woman (a claimant) the right to be paid the same and en­joy the same con­trac­tual terms as male col­leagues (com­para­tors) who are per­form­ing work rated as equiv­a­lent or of equal value, un­less the dif­fer­ence can be jus­ti­fied by a non-dis­crim­i­na­tory rea­son.”

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