The 18 current and former employees – an assortment of plasterers, plumbers and skilled handyment – of the University of Wales Trinity St David discovered last year that female colleagues on the same pay grade were being paid more than them. They therefore brought Employment Tribunal claims for equal pay, alleging that the practice of paying them less was unlawful.
The case came to the Swansea Employment Tribunal earlier this year and – in a move the surprised observers at the time – the University of Wales Trinity St David’s legal team decided at the court door that they would accept liability for the equal pay claim.
The 18 men, one of whom has now retired from his position, have – six weeks after the hearing date – received between £27,000 and £31,000 in compensation for their loss of earnings due to the failure to pay them equal pay. The 17 employees who are still employed by the University will also receive a wage hike of approximately £4,000 per year on average. The total payout to the 18 men was calculated to be £460,000.
As well as the case which has recently concluded, there is also believed to be a legal claim by 13 other male workers for back pay based on the same or similar facts. The value of this claim is believed to be around the £200,000 mark.
Rob Cooze, one of the workers who was successful with his claim, stated after being paid: “I think toasting the windfall with a bottle of Bollinger is called for. Although some of us might prefer a bottle of lager.”
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Both public institutions and private companies have a duty to pay their staff equal wages if they are doing work of equal value. It was obviously clear from the evidence in this case that the University had acted unlawfully in not paying equal pay to their workers – the University would not have conceded liability on the first day if this was in fact not the case. We’ll have to wait and see how the other legal claim develops.”