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Employment Law Case Update: Glasgow City Council

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Thousands of claimants in a long running equal pay claim against Glasgow City Council have now welcomed a victory in the Court of Session (the Supreme Civil Court in Scotland).

About 6,000 female workers at Glasgow City Council were affected by a pay protection scheme set up over a decade ago following a job evaluation scheme.

To affect the move to single status for local authority employees, back in 2007 Glasgow City Council conducted a workforce pay and benefits review. This involved bringing staff and manual workers together under one pay scheme. A job evaluation scheme was carried out and as a result, some jobs were subject to a reduction in pay. It was common practice for a Pay Protection Scheme to be put in place for those employees, and in this case it was for three years.

The Employment Tribunal found that although this was objectively justified, the pay protection provisions used by the appellant were “tainted for sex” – putting females at a disadvantage.  The claimants appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which found that the ET had erred in law in its decision in relation to the pay protection provisions.

The case has now been decided in the Court of Session; the claimants argued that the pay protection scheme had effectively discriminated against women by excluding them; that the loss of bonuses for male dominated groups following the job evaluation scheme meant those groups were then given the benefit of pay protection.

The claimants’ claimed the way in which the pay protection scheme operated meant that it was fundamentally discriminatory against women, favouring male groups. The structure, set up in 2007, was introduced to stop men seeing too big a drop in their wages. The Court of Sessions upheld the earlier decision by the EAT that the pay protection scheme was discriminatory against women.  

The Scottish Union’s secretary commented on how pleased they were with the outcome for the women who’d had to endure this discrimination, stating that the vast majority of the claimants were ‘carers, caterers and cleaners employed on the bottoms rungs of local government’.

The claims could run to as much as £100million given the large numbers of claimants involved. To ensure employers don’t find themselves in costly tribunal proceedings they should be aware of equal pay legislation contained within the Equality Act 2010. Equal pay does not just relate to wages but also paid holiday entitlement, sick pay, hours of work, performance related pay, contractual benefits and pension benefits.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.