Thousands of part-time school and council staff have been awarded hundreds of pounds in back-pay after a cleaner refused to give up the fight, BBC News reports
A £4m settlement is set to be paid to roughly 5,000 low paid staff – nearly all women – following a five-year legal battle backed by public service union, Unison, BBC News reports.
Unison argued that Greenwich Council treated the part-time school and council stall less favourably than their full-time colleagues – the issue centred on the calculation of holiday pay for part-time, term-time-only staff.
Greenwich agreed to revise the formula used to calculate holiday allowances.
The issue was raised when school cleaner Julie Stedman noticed she was about £35 short when she moved from full- to a part-time status in June 2012; her new contract allocated her less holiday pay.
She lodged a grievance after her complaint was not taken seriously by her supervisors and says she “kept on at the union” to fight the case.
The council has now agreed to repay all affected staff at the correct rate back to January 2012.
Unison used European law to bring the employment tribunal claims on behalf of 476 term-time staff – but the corrected formula applies to 5,000 council staff.
Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said:
“This is a victory for all low-paid women working in the public sector.
“What started out as just one case could soon be having an impact far beyond south-east London.
“Laws that began life in Europe have enabled Unison to restore justice and ensure that all part-time workers in the Royal Borough of Greenwich are paid the correct holiday pay for the jobs they do.
“Other employers may have made similar errors with their holiday calculations.
“If they have, we’ll be on to them to make sure all term-time staff are paid what they’re due.”
Unison is dealing with a similar case in Suffolk and is aware of two other areas where school support staff have been affected.
Greenwich Council has not commented on the case but sent documents to the BBC showing it believed it to be less costly to settle the claim before it reached an employment tribunal.