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 3 CMLR 1151, Employment Appeal Tribunal - Louise Chudleigh
Beddoes and others v. Birmingham City Council; Birmingham City Council v. Beck and others; Birmingham City Council v. Barker and others; Birmingham City Council v. Akhtar and others
Appeal by the respondent against various rulings of the ET in multiple equal pay claims, including: 1) whether the time limit in the Equal Pay Act ("EqPA") is an absolute bar to the amendment of an ET1; 2) if for the purpose of s 1(6) of the EqPA a valid comparison can only be made where the employer is the single source responsible for the inequality in pay; and 3) whether grievances filed for over 100 employees by union representatives were either adequate modified grievances or whether they constituted collective grievances for the purposes of s 32 Employment Act 2002.
Many claimants had presented claims using incorrect job descriptions and applied to amend. In some cases permission to amend was granted by the ET and in some, it was not. The EAT decided that there was little prejudice to the employer in granting the amendments so overturned the decisions not to amend. It also said that time limits are a factor to be taken into account in deciding an amendment application but they are not an absolute bar. This latter point is significant as there is no "escape clause" in the EqPA and if time limits are an absolute bar then there is no jurisdiction to hear the proposed amended claim.
The second issue related to claimants who were employed in non-teaching roles in community schools. The respondent claimed that, even though the claimants were employed by the local authority, the governing bodies of the schools had ultimate control over the terms and conditions of the employees. It was argued that there was a "single source" requirement in s 1(6) and that there was no single source as the governing bodies were responsible for remuneration under the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2003. The EAT concluded that there was no single source requirement in s 1(6) and that the Council was in any event, responsible for the pay of both the claimants and their comparators.
The third issue related to whether or not the claimants had complied with the modified grievance procedure which provides that the grievance statement should include the basis for the grievance or alternatively, whether individual grievances filed by a union representative constitutes a "collective" grievance within the meaning of Reg. 9 of the Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004. The EAT overturned the ET's decision that the modified procedure had been complied with as the basis of the grievances had not been set out, but decided that the grievances were collective grievances. Accordingly, it ruled that the Tribunal had jurisdiction to hear the claims as collective grievances do not need to set out the basis of the claim unlike the modified procedure.
The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal in all three cases.