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Women win equal pay claim against local authority employers

A group of women local authority workers have won their equal pay claim after bonuses being paid to their male colleagues were held to be a sham.

The women involved held a variety of posts such as care assistant, area scheme co-ordinator in the housing department, office cleaner and minibus driver. While assessing their right to better pay they compared their roles and responsibilities to men doing such jobs as trade supervisor, joiner, electrician, road sweeper and refuse driver.

The women believed their workload and responsibilities to be on a par with their male counterparts. In spite of this, the men received bonuses that were not available to the women employees.

The local authority argued that the bonus schemes were designed as incentives to boost productivity.

The employment tribunal rejected this argument, however, and found that the bonuses were a sham because they could have little impact on productivity. There were examples where a bonus could be paid to someone who simply carried out the tasks he was already being paid to do anyway.

The tribunal decided in favour of the women and that decision has now been upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

There has been a large increase in the number of successful equal pay claims brought by women in recent years, both in the private and public sector.

Anyone who feels they are not receiving the same pay levels as colleagues performing equivalent work may have grounds for a claim and should seek legal advice.

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