Employers could face a substantial increase in historic equal pay claims.  The Supreme Court has upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision that claimants who have failed to meet the time limit for an equal pay claim in the employment tribunal (generally six months) can bring their claim in the High Court (subject to a six year limitation period).

The reason for the delay is not relevant (unless there is an allegation of abuse of process), although might be taken into account when considering costs orders in the court. The Court’s discretion to strike out an equal pay claim where it could be more conveniently disposed of in the employment tribunal should not be exercised where the tribunal claim would be out of time.

Employers should review their document retention policies to ensure they retain sufficient evidence to respond to historic equal pay claims dating from as far back as six years ago. (Birmingham City Council v Abdulla, SC)