'Scandalous' pay gap for women as Sheffield city council next to be hit by equal pay claims

Sheffield town hall. Credit: PA

Sheffield City council is to become the next to face thousands of equal pay claims- as female cleaners, carers and teaching assistants say they are missing out on up to £11,000 a year.

In what could turn into thousands of separate lawsuits - the GMB union claims what they have found is "scandalous" with a job evaluation system that "actively discriminates" against female workers.

It claims that tiles are lumped together in "job families" with female dominated ones underpaid.

For example, they ask why care managers are on grade 5 - when cemetery supervisors are placed on grade 7 - earning £7,301 more a year.

They say cleaners on grade 1 have comparable jobs to caretakers - but they are placed on grade 3 and earn £1,710 more.

Some female workers say they are missing out on up to £11,000 a year. Credit: PA

Meanwhile senior teaching assistants are two grades below night-time noise officers earning £11,383 less- a difference that the union argues is not justified.

The news of another major council facing sweeping claims from female employees comes after Birmingham was forced into effective bankruptcy (issuing a so-called section 114 notice) after admitting equal pay liabilities of up to £760m.

Meanwhile ITV news has revealed hundreds of new claims aimed at councils across the country including the two in Cumbria, Coventry, Dundee and most recently Sunderland.

The pressure comes as many councils are already in financial crisis because of years of funding cuts, inflation and rising demand including for social care. 

Sue Wood, GMB Senior Organiser said: "What we have uncovered in Sheffield is truly scandalous.

"The council are using a rotten job allocation scheme that actively discriminates against its female workforce and opens up thousands of potential equal pay claims.

"We are determined that this injustice must end and call upon the Town Hall to step up, commit to ending this blatant discrimination and scrap this unfair scheme.”

The Union is launching its campaign on equal pay in Sheffield tomorrow but expects thousands of women to launch claims.

Councilor Fran Belbin, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield City Council has positive and long-standing relationships with the trade unions, including GMB, and we work with them using an evaluation scheme to ensure that council jobs are reviewed and graded fairly.

"We have had this scheme in place since 2010 and it includes an appeals process.

“Any member of staff can request a review if they believe their grade is not correct. We encourage members of staff to raise any concerns about equal pay with us, so we can review and address if necessary.

"When a grade is confirmed as needing to change, changes are made. We meet regularly with staff and their representatives and are always happy to discuss any concerns.”

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