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A Supreme Court ruling has extended the time limit for equal pay claims

A recent ruling from the Supreme Court has made it possible for employees to make equal pay claims up to six years after leaving their jobs.

Previously, an employee had six months to take an equal pay claim to an employment tribunal. Following the landmark ruling, employees now have six years to take up an equal pay claim in the civil courts.

The number of equal pay claims accepted at employment tribunals has been falling in recent years (down from 37,400 in 2009 to 28,800 last year), but commentators have warned that the ruling may trigger a deluge of new claims.

Lawyers are calling it the biggest change to equal pay legislation since its introduction in 1970.

How equal pay cases will play out in the courts remains to be seen. The extra time limit may be a boon for employees, but there are dangers too. It will almost certainly mean higher costs for the losing party, who will be saddled with paying their opponent's legal fees.

Employers concerned about the possibility of claims should consider undertaking an equal pay audit. Acas can visit organisations and help them address a range of pay-related issues, including those surrounding Equal pay and can carry out audits for them. Visit the Pay and reward: how Acas can help page for further information.

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