Council gets ready to pay out on equal pay deal

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Fife Council is due to start paying out on a multi-million pound equal pay claim deal within the next two weeks.

Negotiations between the local authority and solicitors acting on behalf of Action 4 Equality Scotland have concluded and offers of settlement will be released soon, according to Citizens Advice and Rights Fife.

Norma Philpott, CARF’s chief executive said: “I’d advise people to watch out for key documents between now and Christmas or into the New Year; to read these carefully and take advice via their representatives.”

The development comes just weeks after public sector union Unison struck a breakthough compensation deal with Fife Council for over 1400 members - mainly female low-paid carers, cleaners and cooks – who were victims of historic discriminatory pay practices.

Some claims date back as far as 2006 and could reach five figures.

Dougie Black, of Unison, said the union was “pressing very hard to have claims paid out as soon as possible.”

“The process has been made more complicated by the fact that it is based not on contracted hours but actual hours worked,” he explained.

According to the law, a pay claim by former Fife Council employees is active only if lodged within six months of leaving the post or becoming retired.

However, in 2012 a group of 170 Birmingham City council workers won a supreme court ruling which extended the time limit for claiming back pay from six months to six years.

Mr Black advised that if a Unison member lodged a claim before retirement, but continued membership dues, the claim was still active.

Dougie Maguire of Unite, meanwhile, cautioned it was a myth to think every worker would benefit from the deal.

Norma Philpott from CARF advised current claimants to keep in touch with their representatives for advice.

“Those who do not have a representative but believe they have an individual claim can contact Fife Council for clarity,” she said.

“The Council will not respond by telephone,but will through a written request for information.”