Local authorities are facing at least 72 legal cases across the UK over single status pay deals, according to public service union Unison.
The union’s local government national secretary, Heather Wakefield, said its members were taking forward at least six cases in each of its 12 regions to ensure women are paid the same rate as men for work of equal value and receive compensation for a historic pay gap. Authorities were meant to complete their single status pay reviews, to correct the gender pay gap, by April this year, but Wakefield said only a third had completed them.
She said Unison had only taken on cases it expected to win but was in the meantime urging all authorities to continue to negotiate new pay systems and job evaluations.
Meanwhile, an equal pay tribunal in Cumbria backed the union’s method of calculating back pay over the council’s in a ruling which Unison says could net 1,300 female care and kitchen staff up to £60m compensation. The council’s appeal against the workers’ compensation claim in still ongoing.
Local Government Employers principal strategic advisor Jon Sutcliffe said he hoped deals could be reached by negotiation but litigation was making that more difficult. He said some authorities had considered dismissing staff and re-hiring them under an imposed settlement, although none had yet decided to do that.
It has been estimated that the total liability for equal pay compensation for England and Wales is between £3bn and £5bn.
Unison will join fellow unions GMB and TGWU for a single status lobby of parliament on July 10.