Compensation payouts to staff will be revealed

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SHEFFIELD Council has agreed to reveal the total amount of compensation being paid in an out-of-court settlement with 900 school dinner workers, carers and cleaners.

The authority came to a settlement with the workers, mostly women, last September, but refused to reveal the cost, because it did not want to make public how much each worker was being paid.

Payments are being made to people whose roles were the equivalent of other council jobs, but were paid less.

If the council had lost in court, it would have faced paying out £20 million, although the settlement is still expected to cost millions as the authority looks to make £57 million of cuts.

The council has now agreed that because most workers’ settlements and circumstances are different, it can provide a total figure without risking claimants’ confidentiality.

The change of stance was made after a request for the total by The Star - but the council said it cannot yet reveal the amount, because not all settlements have yet been completed.

A spokesman said: “The proceedings have been adjourned to allow individual cases to be resolved.

“That process, facilitated by arbitration and conciliation service ACAS and its solicitors, is ongoing and, because of the volume and complexity of claims, hasn’t concluded yet.

“Parties are hopeful this process can be concluded by the end of March, at which time we will provide the requested information.

“At the present time the final figure isn’t available.”

Commenting on The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign - which challenges public bodies to reveal information of public importance - council chief executive John Mothersole said his authority was one of the ‘most open’ in the UK.

He said: “We are the 13th-best in the country for responding to requests for information within the 20-day deadline for a reply.”

Equal pay cases against the council mainly involved historic claims after jobs were re-evaluated in 1987.

Under that process, roles were valued equally. However, in some cases manual, predominantly-male roles received higher pay, because they received a productivity bonus.