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Equal Pay

Volume 490: debated on Friday 27 March 2009

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government is taking to reduce the time taken to hear equal pay cases at employment tribunals. (265718)

I have been asked to reply.

A significant number of equal pay cases involve complex issues which have to be addressed prior to dealing with the merits of the claim and this can make them more protracted than other employment cases. On a number of issues, employment tribunals have been obliged to wait for the outcome of appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and, in some cases, to the Court of Appeal or Court of Session (in Scotland), before being able to progress them further. It is important that parties are able to exercise their legal rights by raising such issues which they consider relevant in the pursuit or defence of a case or group of cases. Many of these issues have affected very large numbers of cases.

Case management of equal pay cases is the responsibility of the judiciary. However, specialist employment judges are actively engaged in this process. This includes working with parties on an ongoing basis to ensure that case grouping is effective and expeditious.