Friday, 9 December 2011

Unusually long work hours for UK workers

New data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that workers in the UK are working more hours per week than workers in most other European countries. On average, the time worked weekly by UK workers is 42.7 hours, this compares to the significantly lower EU average of 37.4 hours per week.

The data showed that there were only two EU countries, Greece and Austria, in which workers worked longer hours than those in the UK.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Expected rise in equal pay claims following court of appeal judgment

Jobs with women as the prominent workforce have traditionally seen less generous salaries than male-dominated professions. In several recent judicial judgments the courts have actively sought to fill such a gap.

Last week the court of appeal ruled that claims relating to equal pay cannot only be heard in employment tribunals, but that the high court also has jurisdiction over such claims.

It is envisioned that, as a consequence of the judgment, there will be a sharp increase in the number of claims relating to equal pay. The expected rise in claims is envisioned as the high court does not operate under the same strict time limit as employment tribunals. For a case to be heard in an employment tribunal it must be brought within six months of the challenged event, whilst the time limit for bringing a case to the high court is six years.

The case in question involved former female employees of Birmingham City Council who were in traditionally female employment positions and received a lower salary than men in the same pay band.

The court of appeal, upholding the judgment of the lower instance, found that the high court was authorised to hear matters concerning equal pay, even if the employment had ended more than six months ago.

The Council intends to appeal the decision. Chris Benson, the solicitor representing the former workers, said that not accepting equal pay was an outdated notion. "It is disappointing for our clients, and no doubt of concern to the taxpayers of Birmingham, that they have decided to appeal again to the supreme court and we would urge them to reconsider. In some councils these inequalities have only recently been phased out and in other cases the inequalities amazingly still exist."

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