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Thousands of council staff to receive pay out after five-year legal battle

Greenwich council is to give a legal payout to thousands of members of staff following a five-year legal dispute over holiday pay.

Part-time cleaners, teaching assistants, catering, admin workers, school meal workers and other staff – a vast majority of whom are women – are set to receive a pay out in the hundreds of thousands of pounds after Unison took the case to court on behalf of the Royal Borough’s employees.

The dispute began in 2012 when Julie, a school cleaner, noticed she lost out on pay when her contract changed to term-time only, and it was found that the council had failed to correctly calculate annual leave pay. As a result, some staff were underpaid by up to five days per year.

Unison used European law and brought employment tribunal claims on behalf of 476 of the term-time only staff, arguing that they had been treated unfairly due to their part-time status.

The settlement was approved by the council yesterday evening as councillors agreed to revise how they calculate holiday allowance and pay what’s owed backdates to January 2013.

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea commented: “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.”

McAnea added that whilst the formal case only involved 476 workers, the corrected way of calculating holiday pay will apply to all 5,000 term-time only staff employed at the council.

Top image: Herry Lawford


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