Private sector firms carrying out equal pay audits could leave themselves open to mass claims for back-pay, according to a ‘no-win no-fee’ lawyer.
Andrew Vernon, consultant at Birmingham-based law firm Carvers, said only a lack of information on the comparative value of jobs was preventing a flood of legal claims.
Local authorities are struggling with a £5bn bill from female workers claiming for years of lost earnings, with the president of the Public Sector People Managers Association Stephen Moir warning last month that the private sector could soon face similar problems.
But Vernon told Personnel Today: “The difficulty in the private sector is locating [job] comparators. In the public sector there is transparency because of the grading system.
“By doing equal pay audits employers, will make it easier for lawyers. If someone located certain documents there could be a claim. Employers have been getting away with this for 30 years.”
Private sector trade union Unite agreed that a lack of clear job grading data often saved firms from costly equal pay claims. But a spokesman added: “We would not see this as a disincentive to carrying out equal pay audits. The issue can be dealt with by negotiation.”