Local authorities face paying billions in compensation to women workers in equal pay cases, a report suggests.
Councils in north-east England have already paid about £100m, while payouts in Scotland could reach £560m, reported research group Income Data Services (IDS).
It also said that other councils had “larger workforces and therefore larger equal pay liabilities”.
IDS said payouts had been made to women who were denied access to bonuses that could add up to 80% to basic pay.
Sally Brett of IDS, said: “Women working as school caterers or home helps are doing jobs of equal value to men, working in refuse collection, gardening or maintenance, and have been on the same pay grade as them for many years, but they have been denied access to the regular bonus payments that the men have received.”
IDS said local authorities were struggling to implement new equality-proofed pay and grading structures without additional government funding similar to that given to other parts of the public sector, such as the NHS.
“Councils across Britain, many with larger workforces and therefore larger equal pay liabilities than the Scottish and north-east councils, have the same legacy issues to deal with,” said Brett.