Employment Tribunal Service insists it will be able to handle equal pay claim surge

The Employment Tribunal Service has denied union claims that it will struggle to cope with the anticipated surge in equal pay cases as the deadline for local councils to implement deals approaches.

The service is currently dealing with an additional 17,000 equal pay cases but has only recruited an extra six staff at its Glasgow office to help manage the increased workload.

The Public and Commercial Services Union said tribunal staff were becoming angry about the growing pressure. “There is an increase in the workload, but they have not increased the number of staff. We’re already seeing services suffer,” a union official said.

But a spokeswoman from the Employment Tribunal Service told Personnel Today: “It’s nonsense that we cannot cope. It is certainly a big issue but we are sufficiently resourced to deal with it. Our chief executive is keeping staffing levels under review.”

Councils across the UK have until 31 March to set up new equality-proofed pay structures as part of the single-status agreement signed 10 years ago. Local Government Employers, the umbrella group for council pay negotiations, estimates that the cost of equality cases could reach as much as £5bn in the next few years.

Stephen Moir, reward specialist at the Public Sector People Managers’ Association, said the situation was likely to get worse as more cases are filed.

“[Councils] can definitely expect significantly more claims and it is going to become increasingly difficult to manage,” he said.
Councils facing equal pay claims are witnessing a snowball effect across the UK. “Many cases started in councils in the North East of England and it is now filtering south to other places, such as Humberside and the West Midlands,” Moir said.

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