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Women win equal pay claim against local authority

A group of local authority care workers have won an equal pay claim after discovering that men in comparable jobs were receiving bonuses.

The women were all employed by Sheffield City Council which introduced a productivity scheme for a section of workers who were predominantly male. It argued that this did not contravene the Equal Pay Act 1970 because the bonuses could not be applied to the care staff due to the nature of their work.

Both the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected the women’s claims on the basis that the bonus scheme was a genuine initiative to increase productivity among a group of local authority workers who just happened to be male. It was not therefore tainted by any issues relating to sex.

The women refused to accept the decision, however, and took the case to the Court of Appeal. It has now ruled in their favour.

It held that the tribunal decisions were perverse because the productivity bonus created a disparity of pay between the men and the women - even though that had not been the intention when it was introduced. The authority had failed to show that the scheme was objectively justified.

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