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Opening the floodgates for old equal pay claims

20 December 2010

Generally speaking, an equal pay claim in an employment tribunal must be brought within six months of the end of employment. Last Friday a High Court judge has held that such claims may also be pursued in the courts, where a time limit of six years applies.

In Abdulla v Birmingham City Council 174 female employees brought claims that failure to give them pay equal to predominantly male groups was a breach of their contracts of employment. The Council applied to strike out the claims. In dismissing that application Colin Edelman QC said that the High Court did have jurisdiction to hear the claims, even though the six month time limit for a complaint to the employment tribunal had passed.

The case is only at a preliminary stage, but the final decision may open a new route for employees to bring equal pay claims which were previously thought to be time-barred and possibly resurrect claims that had previously been struck out because they were brought too late.

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