Business at risk of equal pay claims, warns top employment lawyer

Martin Edwards, Head of Employment Law at North West law firm Mace & Jones, says he fears the raft of high profile equal pay disputes in councils and hospitals could trigger similar equal pay claims against small firms.
Mr Edwards said public sector organisations had already been forced to pay out millions in compensation payments to female workers with many more cases still ongoing.
“Equal pay claims against owner managers could have devastating consequences and are the last thing a small firm needs in the teeth of a recession,” he said.” To put that in context last year the Government stumped up a colossal £455m for councils to deal with equal pay claims from women workers. Small firms would find it almost impossible to cope with similar claims if they have not prepared in advance.  Not only would such claims be cripplingly expensive they would also be a huge distraction, incredibly disruptive and dreadful for morale.”
Mr Edwards urged business owners to undertake an equal pay audit to root out potential problems.
“Once Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill becomes law, bosses will no longer be able to discipline staff for discussing confidential pay issues,” he said. “So action is necessary. A specialist lawyer with experience in this area can help you to audit your firm’s pay system, picking up inconsistencies and helping to guard against future claims based on allegedly unfair pay or grading. This is one more example of prevention of a problem being much cheaper than cure, so far as employers are concerned.”
Employers wanting more advice on equal pay issues can contact or Liverpool: 0151 236 8989 Manchester: 0161 014 0500  Knutsford: 01565 634234