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Birmingham City Council agrees way forward on equal pay while analysis of figures on employment tribunals mentioning remote working shows they have quadrupled since Covid.
Birmingham City Council, which declared itself bankrupt last month, has agreed a way forward with the unions when it comes to addressing the enormous bill it faces regarding equal pay.
In June 2023, the council said the potential equal pay liability would be in the region of £650m – £760m for the period ending 31st March 2025. From 1st April 2025, the Council has an accruing monthly liability of between £5m-£14m per month if it cannot put in place a robust job evaluation methodology across the council.
Last week it agreed to outsource job evaluation to a third-party specialist supplier. It says the job evaluation programme must be objective, robust, be consistently applied and be compliant with the Equality Act 2010 “so as to remove the risks of job enrichment, sex discrimination and cannot be open to legal challenge and thus incur future potential equal pay liability”.
The council’s issue with equal pay dates back to 2012, when a Supreme Court ruling found that mostly female employees in roles such as teaching assistants, cleaners, and catering staff missed out on bonuses given to staff in traditionally male-dominated roles.
Meanwhile, on other news relating to legal issues, analysis by HR consultants Hamilton Nash shows employment tribunals are seeing record levels of cases relating to remote working. They say some 42 tribunals mentioned ‘remote working’ in 2022, a 50% increase from the 27 cases the year before. In the first half of 2023 there have been 25 cases already – equivalent to 50 cases for the whole year.
Prior to the pandemic, there were on average seven employment tribunals a year relating to remote working, but since 2020 the rate has quadrupled to an average of approximately 33 cases a year.
Jim Moore, employee relations expert at Hamilton Nash, said: “Many companies have been keen to encourage employees back to the office, but the increasing number of disputes ending up in tribunals shows that it’s a growing source of workplace tension.
“Businesses that force staff into the workplace against their will are likely to find that disputes escalate, resulting in an increasing turnover rate or costly legal remedies.
“With most employees favouring a mix of office and home working, the battle for workers’ hearts and minds is going to be won by progressive employers who embrace hybrid working.
“Instead of dictating one-size-fits-all policies, companies should show understanding for personal circumstances. Many parents who have got used to working from home have adapted their routines to suit their childcare needs, and forcing them back to the workplace can create large amounts of stress and upheaval.”