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Equal Pay

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[Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary]

The EAT (Underhill P) has handed down its decision in Beddoes v Birmingham City Council, which is authority for the propositions that in determining if Claimants (here school staff but Council employees) are in the 'same employment' as comparators (other Council staff) for the purposes of the EPA, the fact that school governors - who are not the employer - set the Claimants' terms and conditions (albeit on Council recommendations) did not mean that the Claimants were not under a 'single source' of terms and conditions with other Council staff, meaning Council staff were potential comparators.

The EAT said that 'the same employment' should be construed naturally, but observed that with sufficient evidence of departures by governors from Council recommendations, the outcome might differ. The EAT suggested that a material factor defence might arise for an employer in such situations.

In mass Equal Pay litigation, with mistakes in job titles being "inevitable", Tribunals should be very ready to accept amendments to correct misdescriptions of job titles, subject to considerations of jurisdiction and prejudice to the employer.

A failure to properly state the basis of a grievance under the (now-repealed) Modified Grievance Procedure will not mean a claim is barred under S32 EA 2002 if a Collective Grievance under Regulation 9 of the 2004 Dispute Resolution Regulations covers that grievance. The EAT set a low threshold for complying with the Collective Grievance provisions by a Union or appropriate representative, allowing for compliance by 'happy accident'.

The EAT also held that agreeing to follow the Modified Procedure is binding, and a Claimant cannot retract agreement and revert to the Standard Procedure to get round a S32 bar if a grievance under the Modified Procedure fails to do so.