Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders


Concerns over equal pay

Recent publicity in the press has raised some concerns among members about the implications of equal pay legislation on budgets.

They are right to raise the issue - this could potentially have huge implications. The problem arises not from the rise in pay itself (all equal pay claims are settled by increasing, not decreasing, pay) but from up to five years' back pay which can be demanded. For maintained schools there may be a share of government money for the pay rises themselves, but none for back pay.

While equal pay legislation affects all employers, it particularly impacts on local government because of the multiplicity of jobs and the impact of single status agreements.

Because community and voluntary-controlled schools are obliged to place staff on a local government scale and contracts are held by the local authority, they will have to conform to any local government decision on relative weight of positions on scales in so far as this is affected by equal pay. Where equal pay is not an issue, this does not apply.

Voluntary-aided schools and foundation schools, independent schools, academies and FE colleges are all affected as employers by equal pay legislation. However, they are entitled to decide on appropriate changes to their pay scales to comply with equal pay legislation, in negotiation with the appropriate unions. They will also be liable for back pay.

Clearly, the consequence of a large increase in staff costs may be redundancies. Unions may be prepared to compromise in order to preserve jobs. However, it is only fair to warn members that one of the 'no win no fee' legal firms involved in pursuing equal pay claims has also pursued legal action against a union for compromising in this way - on the grounds that it has failed in its duty towards members.

Members who need advice should call the ASCL hotline on 0116 299 1122.

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