Equal Pay

Latest Update – Jan24

If you have submitted an Equal Pay Claim against Cumbria County Council in the autumn of 2023, you may now have been contacted by Thompsons Solicitors, who are acting on behalf of UNISON to pursue this collective case. There are over 500 UNISON members involved in this claim in Cumbria and so it may take time for Thompsons to contact you. We are currently in discussions with the employer regarding potential ways to resolve this situation and we will provide an update in due course.

Please be aware that attempts by Thompsons Solicitors to contact you are legitimate (and not spam!) and they may require further details directly from you.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the branch if you have any queries on equalpay@unisoncumbria.co.uk

Frequently Asked Questions – Updated Nov23

What if I can’t find a copy of my contract, will it affect my claim?

No, not necessarily. Your employer should have a copy of your contract, and UNISON will seek to obtain copies of contracts for members from your employer during the proceedings if members cannot locate them. However, please do all you can to locate documents for yourself as this will save time at a later date and it is good for you to hold a copy of all your employment related documentation.

I can only find payslips going back 3 years, is this ok?

This is fine; UNISON is looking to gather as much information about the pay grades and scales in the former Cumbria County Council as possible. Whatever information that can be provided will assist UNISON in analysing the pay grades and job roles. UNISON will seek from employers pay slip details for the duration of members employment.

Will it affect my claim if I cannot provide the information requested?

No. As mentioned above, if a member has a valid claim, UNISON will seek to obtain the information to support the claim from the employer. We may only be able to tell if you have a claim once we have assessed your job role, so any information about your work and pay practices that you can provide will be helpful. The more information you can provide, the better.

My manager has told me that Supervisors shouldn’t be included, is this correct?

If you believe you have a claim then fill out a case form and provide the requested documents and you will be included in the claim.

Payroll have said they only have payslips back to 2018, will a P60 do instead?

Payslips will provide a comprehensive breakdown of how a person is paid throughout the year, while a P60 will show how much a person has been paid in a given tax year. While P60’s are helpful, the more payslips that can be produced, the better.

Other Trade Unions have only asked members to fill in a form, why are UNISON asking for more? Do we really need 3 payslips per year going back to 2017, last equal pay claim it was 3 in total.

UNISON want to gather as much information as possible to give our members the best chance of a successful claim. Having more information enables UNISON to have a better understanding of the job roles and the pay grades, and gives the legal team assisting UNISON the best chance of making successful claims on members behalf. UNISON would rather have more information about the pay grades and job roles in the former Cumbria County Council rather than too little.

How long will the claim take?

This is a difficult question to answer. Equal pay claims are notoriously lengthy and take time to resolve. The claim could take several years. We will ensure that you are updated as the matter proceeds.

Who is the comparator?

We’ve had suggestions varying from bin men, road sweepers, gritters, street lighters etc.  UNISON are currently investigating this and have identified that Highways roles and grounds maintenance are likely to be comparators.

How do I submit my documentation?

A new email account has been set up equalpay@unisoncumbria.co.uk for you to send all your equal pay documentation or post it to us at

Cumbria County UNISON
Englishgate Plaza

Frequently Asked Questions – Sept23

What is an Equal Pay claim?

Broadly, the law says that that a woman is entitled to be paid the same as a man (and vice versa) in the same employment doing equal work unless the employer can point to a genuine material explanation for the difference which is not based on sex.

Equal pay law is about equal pay, not fair pay. The fact that someone of a different sex earns more than you is not enough to establish an equal pay claim. The pay difference must be because of sex.

Is there a claim for Equal Pay?

UNISON has been at the forefront of equal pay claims up and down the country over decades, with UNISON securing £millions for our members in compensation. UNISON takes the matter of Equal Pay extremely seriously and have relentlessly led on campaigns, pursuing employers, and exposing discriminatory pay practices.

UNISON has made our position very clear to your employer, at the time it was implemented and recently, that we do not endorse nor like the current job evaluation scheme. It is the potential flaws in the JE scheme that are being investigated in respect of equal pay. We have written formally to your employer on more than one occasion to raise our concerns throughout the re-organisation process and we are taking part in extensive discussions to ensure our preferred scheme is used and implemented moving forward in the new authorities. These discussions are progressing well.

However, we need to be clear that just because we believe something is flawed and unfair, may not mean the process is unlawful. This is where UNISON has been focusing our investigation.

UNISON is currently investigating the possibility of equal pay claims that may have existed prior to the recent re-organisation and are currently undertaking an assessment of any such claims.

It is not clear nor guaranteed that any such claim does exist. However, to ensure that members are able to pursue claims and that any potential claim is protected we have made the decision to start early conciliation. There is a very tight deadline that must be complied with.

What is the deadline?

Please note the deadline for submitting an Equal Pay Claim has now passed.

The deadline for submitting a claim is Friday 29 September. This is the date UNISON will lodge the claims through Early Conciliation (EC). EC is the process that is required to be undertaken prior to lodging a claim with the Employment Tribunal.

Triggering Early Conciliation does not necessarily mean UNISON will pursue this issue further than the EC stage. However, it will allow UNISON additional time to continue with investigations and will enable us to request further information from the employer directly and via ACAS.

Will there be any compensation?

It is not yet clear that any claim exists, Early Conciliation is being lodged to allow further time to continue with investigations.
Any claim that UNISON does take on behalf of UNISON members always results in the member receiving 100% of the compensation.

UNISON will not deduct any fees or commission from the amount awarded unlike other potential firms that may act on behalf of employees who operate on a no win no fee basis.

Why haven’t I received an email?

Emails have been sent to those members who have an up to date valid email on their membership record. If you have not received an email please check your junk folder and ensure you check your membership record to check whether your email address is valid.
Please go to My UNISON to register so you can access and update your details online or contact the Branch Office.

What happens if I leave my job?

So long as you have completed a case form and registered this with UNISON before the deadline of Wednesday 27 September you will be part of any potential claim. Please mark the form clearly the exact date that your job ended. This is important.

I have left my job, can I still claim?

So long as you are a current UNISON member and were working for Cumbria County Council between 2011 and present day you are entitled to join the potential claim. Early conciliation must start within 6 months less one day of the end of your role. Please complete a case form and make it clear what day your job ended and submit this by Wednesday 27 September.

I don’t know my membership number or date of joining, where can I find this?

Please contact the branch on the details below who can help provide you with this.

I have two jobs, should I include both on the case form?

Please complete an individual case form for each job that may be affected by this claim.

I am not a UNISON member, can I still join the claim?

You can only join the potential claim if you are a UNISON member. If you join online at join.unison.org.uk you can then complete a case form and return this to the branch on the details below.

If an equal pay claim was successful, wouldn’t everyone get it anyway?

Not necessarily. It is best to be part of a claim that is being collectively pursued.

What happens when my claim is lodged?

The claim will be lodged with a process known as Early Conciliation (EC). Lodging EC ensures the claim is not out of time. The EC process involves ACAS and is a process of mediation to allow the parties involved to come to an agreement without having to go to an employment tribunal.

UNISON is going to start EC as a protective measure so that it allows more time to gather information to continue investigations. There is no guarantee UNISON will progress this claim beyond the EC stage. UNISON will keep you updated on the progress of the claim.

You may be asked for further details at any time, please be prepared to provide these in a timely manner should it be needed. This is one of the conditions under which you are offered legal assistance.