The claim was taken by six Prospect members who are Senior Patent Examiners at the IPO. Their pay span was long and progression to the maximum was slow.
The public sector pay freeze in 2010 meant that progression was completely halted. Equal pay audits showed that there was a significant gender pay gap in the band.
Claims for equal pay were lodged in 2010 and had been slowly proceeding in the tribunal, with several preliminary stages successfully overcome. A full hearing was due to start on 26 April in the Cardiff Tribunal, but was settled the day before.
The following joint announcement from management and Prospect was issued today to all staff:
"We are pleased to have reached agreement on the settlement of a number of equal pay claims brought by Prospect members in the C2 pay span. As a result of the settlement, with effect from 1 May 2013, the pay span for all C2 staff (patent examiners and other staff) is being shortened to range from a minimum of £50,673 to a target rate of £54,512. Existing staff will be assimilated into the new pay span with a flat-rate increase of £8,000, or to the new target rate if lower."
The effect of this is that the £12,000 long pay scale is shortened to just under £4,000 with a higher minimum and maximum. Approximately 185 employees will benefit from this, many receiving an increase of £8,000 per year.
Members at the IPO are taking industrial action over pay. The overall strategy of litigation and collective action has been a great success.
Prospect head of legal Marion Scovell said: "Individual women members who brought tribunal claims have demonstrated just how effective this can be for all members, with the settlement rolling out to improve the pay of all in the same pay span.
"The women have made a real difference to the fairness of pay for their colleagues as well as themselves and were committed to presenting a robust case.
"Particularly the two branch reps, Ele Wade and Nick Mole, undertook an excellent and tireless job in the preparation of the case, working with Helen Stevens, negotiations officer," Scovell concluded.
Ben Cooper of Old Square Chambers had been advising on the case throughout, and was instructed by Prospect’s legal officer.
This case is the latest instalment in Prospect's on-going equality challenge to pay systens based on disproportionate use of length of service following on from the successful cases of Cadman v HSE and Wilson v HSE.