Fife Council has reached a multi-million pound equal pay settlement with 1,400 low paid, predominantly female workers.
Women working in the public sector have, historically, been paid less than their male counterparts for doing comparable jobs, and so in recent years equal pay measures have been brought in to remedy this.
The Scottish council managed to reach the settlement with its workers, some of whose claims went back to 2006, without the need for court action.
Fife Council leader David Ross described his council’s agreement as in the best interests of all concerned.
He said: ‘The fact that we have reached agreement without the need for legal proceedings has to be welcomed. There will no doubt be comparisons between Fife and other local authorities who are also dealing with equal pay claims. However it’s important to note that no two cases are the same and the fact that we haven’t had to go through a court process means Fife’s outcome cannot be compared to others.’
The final figures of the settlement have not been agreed yet, but cllr Ross points out that it will put an added strain on an already tight budget.
‘Set against the existing budget gap of £77m over three years,’ he said, ‘this will make the development of our future budgets even more challenging.’
There have been a number of court cases and settlements in recent years, with substantial sums of money being paid out. In a landmark case, Birmingham City Council was hit by a bill of over £1bn in equal pay claims and was forced to sell the NEC Group in order to pay for it.