Scottish authorities could face a bill of £700m for equal pay claims

Local authorities in Scotland could face a bill of up to £700m to settle backdated claims for equal pay from women workers in the public sector, campaigners warn.

Councils in the northeast of England have already paid out £75m after claims involving 8,000 women workers.

The Action 4 Equality campaign, which has also won settlements at employment tribunals, is now heading to Scotland.

Last month Newcastle City Council reached a settlement with trade unions which will benefit 2,800 workers, such as cleaners and care-at-home staff. Gateshead, Durham City, Sunderland, South Tyneside and North Tyneside have also made multi-million pound payouts.

The Scottish organiser of Action 4 Equality, Mark Irvine, estimated that 50,000 women workers in Scotland could claim.

He said that if they got similar settlements to those already paid in England, the bill could reach £700m.

A claim under the Equal Pay Act 1970 may be made by either a woman or a man claiming equal pay with one or more comparators of the other sex. He or she needs to show a difference in pay for doing “work of equal value”. 

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