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LEGAL UPDATE – Councils striving for equal pay for its workforce

Councils striving for equal pay for its workforce

New research published by the Local Government Employers has revealed that half of all councils have now undertaken equal pay reviews, but the ability of local authorities to undertake these reviews is being hampered by the ever-growing impact of no-win-no-fee lawyers seeking to litigate claims.

The survey of 79 local authorities has found that staff in schools account for about 29% of equal pay costs for a given authority with up to around 75% in the most extreme cases. The total cost of pay reviews is currently estimated at £2.8bn, with total back pay at £1.bn, ongoing costs at £1.5bn, and protection at £0.4bn.

The figures show that 47% of councils have now completed pay reviews and/or implemented the outcomes (compared with about 34% a year ago). 25% have reviews underway but we the target completion date is not known. 7.5% have targeted completion by the end of this financial year and 7.5% by next year. Of the rest, 9% of councils have chosen not to do pay reviews because they are opted out of the national agreement, which is a voluntary framework.

Jan Parkinson, Managing Director of the Local Government Employers, said:

“Local government want equal pay within their workforce and are working hard to achieve it and it is extremely encouraging that more than half of all councils have got the job done. Providing a fair settlement on equal pay remains an urgent issue for local councils who must act in the best interests of local tax payers as well as all staff. While councils spend around £85billion there will some implications to some services in some councils despite the work that they are doing to mitigate the effects.

“Councils have been hamstrung in their ability to deliver on equal pay agreements as no-win no-fee lawyers have been holding up the process for many years. No win-no fee lawyers have not served any useful purpose and instead have clogged up the tribunal system causing severe delays to claims and cost taxpayers more money in bureaucracy.”

“Local Government is in some ways paying the price for being open about this problem and declaring that it is going to do something about it. There are similar problems in the NHS and civil service. The situation in the private sector is completely hidden as they have no requirement to carry out pay assessments.”

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