Birmingham City Council Workers Win Equal Pay Fight - Prolegal

Birmingham City Council Workers Win Equal Pay Fight

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In November 2012, 170 former employees of Birmingham City Council won the right to bring equal pay claims despite leaving their employment several years ago.

The Supreme Court confirmed that they could bring a claim for breach of contract in the High Court, which has a generous 6 year time limit, rather than the Employment Tribunal, which has a strict 6 month time limit.

Birmingham City Council had given bonuses to male dominated jobs such as refuse collectors, street cleaners, road workers and grave diggers but not female dominated jobs such as clerical workers. In 2007 and 2008, the Council reached settlements with thousands of workers. Several ex-employees then brought High Court claims because they were too late to claim in the Employment Tribunal. The Council tried to have the claims struck out but the Supreme Court have now confirmed that the claims can go ahead.

The case has huge implications: anyone can bring a claim against an ex-employer provided they do so within 6 years. It is likely to have most impact for ex-public sector workers who find out that their ex-colleagues have won equal pay claims or reached settlements but it applies equally across the public and private sectors.

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