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High Court ruling will allow care home workers to press on with equal pay claims, law firm says

A High Court ruling concerning employees of a residential care firm will allow their equal pay claims to move forward, law firm Leigh Day has said.

Leigh Day said the claimants - predominantly care workers - contended their work at Avery Homes was of equal value to that of the male maintenance operatives, who were paid more.

The claimants, members of the GMB union, were represented by Leigh Day, and work in Avery’s 58 homes.

In Beal & Ors v Avery Homes (Nelson) Ltd & Ors [2019] EWHC 1415 (QB) Mr Justice Lavender considered job descriptions put forward by both sides.

He decided that all of the claimant roles were exposed to risk of anti-social behaviour, mental and verbal abuse, physical threats and violence from residents with dementia and that the risk to carers was greatest when they carried out personal care tasks in close proximity to residents who had dementia.

Care assistants were capable of using their own knowledge and experience when it came to dealing with conflicting priorities when deciding which tasks needed prioritising and that they were also capable of deciding in which order they should carry out care activities without having to rely all the time on the instructions of the senior carer who was in charge.

The judgment will go to an independent expert appointed by the court to assist it in reaching a final judgment on equal value next year.

GMB legal director Susan Harris said: “We are glad that the court has given some clarity regarding the tasks and responsibilities that our members carry out in their daily job roles.

“Our members carry out an invaluable service looking after vulnerable individuals and the court’s judgment provides a glimpse into the demands of how challenging and demanding carrying out such work can be. It is only right that they are properly rewarded and not underpaid because of their gender.”

Avery did not respond to a request for comment.

Mark Smulian