Staff win pay claim against Brighton Council

BRIGHTON & Hove City Council must pay back wages to 12 staff after it unlawfully ended a protected pay period early.

The affected staff were all members of the Royal Pavilion and Museums Information & Security Team. Following a reorganisation in 2013, they lost a shift allowance, were given a lower paid post or both. However, the council said pay would be protection from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2017.

However, in May 2016, the council stated that the reference to 31 March 2017 in its documentation was a clerical error, the pay protection was limited to three years and stopped the enhanced pay.

Following a hearing in January, an Employment Tribunal upheld the employees' challenge. It ruled that the contractual period was clearly stated and the staff were entitled to assume that the formal documentation issued by the council was correct. As a result, the failure to pay the protected pay was an unlawful deduction from wages. The council must now provide back-pay.

Charles Harrity of union GMB, which represented the staff, said: "This is a shocking example of the council's austerity drive. Time and time again we are seeing that it is the low paid workers who are being targeted.

"On the one hand, the council says that it has no money to provide fair terms and conditions for employees and yet, as this case shows, the council will not hesitate to spend thousands in legal fees trying to justify its actions."

Gary Palmer, GMB Southern region organiser, added: "The reality of this case is that these workers are already on a low wage and struggling to make ends meet and further cuts to terms and conditions can have devastating consequences."

A council spokesman told LGE: "We're disappointed and will be studying the tribunal's findings and any implications these may have."