A landmark court case in which council workers have won the right to sue their employer for compensation for unequal pay between men and women could have huge implications for local authorities in Lancashire.
The new ruling means council workers will now be able to claim for unfair pay inequalities up to six years after leaving the local authority - compared to a deadline of just six months before.
Lancashire County Council has said it is looking into the ruling to see how it could affect the authority.
Ian Young, Deputy County Secretary and Solicitor for Lancashire County Council, said: “We will need to look at the detail of this ruling to see how it could affect Lancashire. “
A Preston City Council spokesman added: “The council has previously dealt with fair pay claims and will deal with any further claims in the normal way.”
It comes after scores of women who worked for Birmingham City Council won an equal pay compensation fight at the Supreme Court - the UK’s highest court .
Judges said more than 170 former Birmingham City Council employees could launch pay equality compensation claims.
Lawyers have described the judgment, as a “landmark ruling.”
MWR Solicitors, which employs more than 30 staff in Preston, says hundreds of people in the county who previously could not claim may now be able to,
Partner Sadiq Vohra said: “This is a positive development for claimants and confirms that workers can sue for equal pay outside of the time limitation of six months.”
Last November, the Court of Appeal said scores of cooks, cleaners, catering and care staff previously employed by Birmingham City Council were entitled to launch pay equality compensation claims after it heard women were denied bonuses similar to those handed out to employees in traditionally male-dominated jobs such as refuse collectors, street cleaners, road workers and grave-diggers.
The city council challenged the decision in the Supreme Court but yesterday a panel of five justices dismissed the appeal by a majority.
In 2007 and 2008, tens of thousands of pounds were paid to female council employees to compensate them. More payments have also been made to women at employment tribunals.
However the High Court has a six-year deadline for launching claims and women not eligible for the tribunal process will now be able to have their cases heard there .