The Court of Appeal has ruled that Nottingham City Council was wrong to deny hundreds of employees the right to incremental pay increases.
In 2011 the council decided to deny staff pay rises as they moved up salary scales linked to their jobs. The workers, backed by UNISON, have now successfully challenged that decision.
The case, which has been running since July 2013, saw the East Midlands council staff initially take their case to an employment tribunal in Nottingham.
UNISON claimed the council was guilty of the unlawful deduction of wages because staff had a contractual right to incremental wage progression, and therefore the pay freeze was a breach of contract.
The case was heard in 2015, but the workers’ claims were dismissed. UNISON, working with Thompsons Solicitors, successfully appealed the decision at an employment appeal tribunal. The council then appealed against the judgment and the case went to the Court of Appeal.
Christina Sanna, the branch secretary at UNISON’s Nottingham City branch, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the Court of Appeal decision.
“This court case has been a long drawn-out process and very stressful for us here at the branch. It will finally mean our members get the pay they have worked hard for and deserve.”
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The judges have found unanimously in favour of the council employees. Nottingham City Council was completely in the wrong to try to prevent its staff from getting the pay rises they were due.
“In any organisation where salary scales are linked to jobs, employees’ contracts of employment state that each year, as they gain more experience and move up a point, their wages should increase.
“While there’s much sympathy for cash-strapped councils struggling to provide services for local communities, because the government is slashing their funding, Nottingham shouldn’t have been making its employees pay the price. Now staff can look forward to receiving all the cash they are owed.”