Equal pay has overtaken unfair dismissal for the first time as the most popular grounds for tribunal claims passed to Acas for conciliation.
Figures in Acas’ annual report revealed the number of equal pay claims received in 2007-08 more than doubled to reach 58,513 – up from 27,497 the previous year. Unfair dismissal accounted for 43,231 claims.
Acas has a legal duty to promote the settlement of actual and potential Employment Tribunal claims.
Councils across England and NHS employers are struggling with multi-million pound equal pay claims, mainly from female workers. The report said these disputes were making “substantial demands” on Acas resources.
An increasing number of requests for conciliation came from local authorities in Wales and, for the first time, London. There are also an estimated 30,000 tribunal claims pending against NHS employers.
“The equal pay issue remains a source of both individual and collective conflict, and we expect much the same level of demand for our services throughout the coming year, and possibly for some time thereafter,” the report said.
Last week legal experts warned that thousands of new equal pay claims could be lodged following an appeal court ruling that two councils’ pay protection schemes were unlawful because they reinforced inequality between men and women.