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Employment Law Case Update: Glasgow City Council v Unison

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In 2017 Unison brought a claim against Glasgow City Council on behalf of around 6,000 female workers at Glasgow City Council who were affected by a pay protection scheme set up over a decade ago following a job evaluation scheme.

The Council carried out a benefits and pay review which brought around 30,000 members of staff and manual workers under one pay structure across 3,000 job titles. The employer also carried out a Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) in 2006 to bring all levels of staff on to an equal pay system.

Manual workers, who were predominantly male, had earned bonuses under an old scheme, which was calculated at a percentage of their basic pay. They were said to be at a disadvantage under the JES, because these bonuses had been lost and this resulted in an overall reduction in pay. In order to make the difference in pay less drastic after being placed on the JES, workers who experienced a reduction in pay were placed on a Payment Protection Scheme (PPS). 

Under the JES, female counterpart employees were deemed to work in equivalent roles, although they were not entitled to PPS. Was this, they argued, because the bonuses favoured male groups? And did the way the PPS operated mean that it was fundamentally discriminatory against women?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the PPS used by the Council was discriminatory, but this was appealed by Glasgow City Council. The Court of Session (the highest civil court in Scotland) rejected the appeal, instead discussing ways in which discrimination could be resolved through a negotiation.

On 17 January 2019, Glasgow City Council and the equal pay claimant group, comprised of Unison, among other Trade Unions, confirmed that they had reached an agreement in principle on payments to resolve these claims of discrimination.  Thousands of female council workers in Glasgow could therefore receive compensation reaching more than £500 million after the deal has been entered into, to resolve historic equal pay claims.

This case has now set a landmark, which may be the first to help employees to ensure they are receiving equal pay.

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.