An Employment Tribunal has upheld equal pay claims brought by more than 4,000 women against Birmingham City Council, the UK’s largest local authority.
The claimants were employed in a variety of traditionally female-dominated jobs, including catering, cleaning, care and administrative work. They claimed they had been excluded from bonuses paid to male colleagues that were worth up to 160% of basic pay. The male comparator groups included refuse workers, gravediggers, road workers and gardeners.
The Tribunal has yet to assess compensation, but the law firm representing the claimants was reported in The Guardian as saying that the bill for the council could be around £200 million. The firm’s spokesperson added that, if further women from the Council’s workforce were now to bring claims, the figure could rise to £1 billion.
This is probably the most significant successful equal pay case so far in the UK public sector. Many other local authorities and National Health Service employers are facing thousands of similar-type claims.