Equal Pay Claims Six Years After End of Employment

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In a landmark case between Birmingham City Council and Abdulla and others, the Supreme Court has held that an equal pay claim can be brought against an employer in the Civil Courts up to six years after the termination of employment, rather than having to make a claim within the Employment Tribunal time limit of six months. Between 2007 and 2008, Birmingham City Council paid out thousands of Pounds to women who brought similar compensation claims but only to those who brought their claim within six months of losing their jobs as this was the time limit placed on cases to be taken to an employment tribunal. In this recent case, 170 former female employees at Birmingham City Council brought equal pay claims in the High Court and the Court of Appeal but the council took the place to the Supreme Court arguing that only an employment tribunal had jurisdiction over such matters. These employees predominantly held roles as cleaners, caterers and care staff and they brought the claim as bonuses had been paid to employees who worked in predominantly males-dominated roles such a refuse collection but had not been paid to these females. The Supreme Court held that cases of this nature could never be “more conveniently” disposed of in a Tribunal where the claims were time-barred and therefore the Claimants could bring their claims to the Civil Court. Leigh Day & Co who represented the women said this as “the biggest change to equal pay legislation since it was introduced in 1970, with huge implications for thousands of workers”. This ruling effectively extends the time limit that an employee can bring an equal pay claim from six months to six years so it’s worth an employer making sure they comply with equal pay legislative requirements to avoid litigation in the Civil Courts.

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