Thompsons Solicitors have welcomed a landmark ruling by the Appeal Court in England and Wales which will make it easier for thousands of Scottish equal pay claimants to pursue their cases.
The ruling has simplified future equal-pay claims by removing the stipulation that employees put full details of their claims and male earning comparators in writing to their employer.
Scottish cases will be affected by the ruling because employment law is a UK function, and not devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
Partner Rory McPherson, who Heads up Thompsons’ Employment Rights Unit said: “Local Government Lawyers who have sought to stall legitimate equal pay claims are now being called upon to accept that workers in Scotland should be allowed to progress claims in the same way as workers elsewhere in the UK.
“The decision reflects a very considerable victory for commonsense and the Trade Unions who have fought to progress tens of thousands of claims across the UK.
“In addition and in a further victory for the Trade Union-led equal pay litigation employers have been told by the Court of Appeal to stop hiding behind technical changes in contracts and accept that workers with a stable employment relationship can continue to pursue equal pay claims.”
The judgment was also welcomed by the trade unions, many of which are represented by Thompsons. The unions say it will allow some 30,000 people in Scotland to progress their stalled cases.
Most of the claims refer to women who have been working for health boards or local authorities for less pay than their male colleagues.
In the EAT ruling appealed by employers, Mr Justice Elias had said: "Rarely can legislation have been so counter- productive.
"Provisions designed to reduce tribunal disputes have spawned satellite litigation in which arcane and complex points of law have been argued, frequently so remote from reality that they would surprise even the most desiccated Chancery lawyer conjured up by the imagination of a Charles Dickens.”
Lord Justice Wall in the Court of Appeal criticised the approach by which “employment related issues which were designed to be simple and understood by ordinary working people have become overlaid with degrees of sophisticated argument which at times render them unrecognisable”