Monday, March 12, 2007

Hardship of new equality law

The front page of The Times today reports an extraordinary story, that hundreds of thousands of men working in the the public sector are facing salary cuts of up to £15,000 a year as equal pay agreements take effect. Apparently, compensation claims for up to 1.5 million workers could cost the taxpayer more than £10 billion and mean that male staff lose up to 40 per cent of their salary. The Times reports that up to 700,000 female council workers, a similar number of NHS workers and tens of thousands of teaching assistants and Ministry of Defence staff are now eligible for equal pay settlements stretching back over six years. The article continues:

"Over the past two years, unions have reached hundreds of compromise agreements with local councils to help to protect male workers’ pay and jobs while getting a good deal for women...The unions claim that no-win, no-fee solicitors are now undermining industrial relations in the public sector as lawyers try to renegotiate settlements. Union officials across the public sector are now having to agree to settlements where men’s pay will be cut."

Whilst there may sometimes be a case for attacking "no-win no-fee" lawyers, it is more than a little rich here when all they are doing is applying the law. This is a classic example of well-intentioned socialist legislation leading to unintended consequences. Equal pay seems uncontroversial. But suddenly to impose drastic changes from the top down is leading to severe and punitive pay cuts to men with all the social consequences that follow. Perhaps it is that the unions would rather raise a red herring of compensation-chasing lawyers criticise the effects of this socialist legislation.

5 comments:

Lawyerlike said...

Why lawyers should surf, but maybe not in Florida:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-cpshark12mar12,0,2647057.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

david giacalone said...

What ever happened to professional courtesy among sharks? http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq/2007/03/12/no-professional-courtesy-shark-bites-lawyer/

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Isn't the better solution to give raises to the women? Perhaps that means jobs will be cut, but if so, that's an indication that maybe the male workers were overpaid to begin with.

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