£1.25bn equal pay fiasco nearing end of the road
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.”