Under the Equal Pay Act employees have six months from the end of their employment to bring an equal pay claim. In the recent case of Unison v Allen, Mrs Allen's employment transferred from NUPE to UNISON under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE). Mrs Allen then brought an equal pay claim, based on her exclusion from the NUPE occupational pension scheme, more than six months after the transfer of her employment to UNISON.
Under TUPE, rights and obligations in relation to occupational pension schemes do not transfer and therefore in this case remained the responsibility of NUPE. But the liability for all other employment claims including equal pay will transfer under TUPE to the new employer. However, Unison v Allen reiterated previous decisions of the House of Lords by stating that, for the purposes of any equal pay claim, Mrs Allen's employment with NUPE was a separate employment from her employment with Unison. Therefore the time limit for bringing a claim for equal pay in relation to her employment with NUPE was six months from the date of the transfer to UNISON.
This case is a reminder that employers should look carefully at the employment history of equal pay claimants to check whether they have transferred under TUPE at any point in the six years prior to the date of their claim. If that proves to be the case, part of their claims could be out of time, thereby limiting any potential liability.
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