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South Lanarkshire Council Reaches Pay Dispute Settlement

South Lanarkshire Council Reaches Pay Dispute Settlement

South Lanarkshire Council says it has reached a settlement on a pay dispute involving more than 3,000 people.

The long-running dispute was caused when current and former female employees of the local authority argued they were on lower salaries than men in comparable, but different, positions.

It agreed to open further talks on the matter last year after failing in a legal bid to block a freedom of information request regarding its pay scales and has now concluded a financial settlement. 

Although the details are being kept confidential, it is believed the council will have to pay out millions of pounds on equal pay claims as a result of the deal being reached.

As well as leaving the authority with a large settlement on its hands, the dispute has highlighted a number of legal setbacks for the council. 

For instance, back in June 2012, an employment tribunal declared that some of its job evaluations failed to comply with the Equal Pay Act, while last July the Supreme Court rejected the authority's attempt to block freedom of information requests on pay scales from Action 4 Equality Scotland.

According to the BBC, South Lanarkshire Council admitted the failed legal action is likely to set it back in the region of £200,000.

A month after that ruling was made, the authority and lawyers representing the female staff agreed to begin exploratory discussions and delay employment tribunal hearings, and a deal has now been reached following half a year of these talks.

Eddie McAvoy, leader of South Lanarkshire Council, stressed that the administration has always insisted any claimants who were entitled to additional money would get it.

"Towards the end of last year it seemed that the circumstances were right to try to achieve a negotiated settlement and I am pleased that the talks have concluded successfully," he explained.

By Francesca Witney