Legislation – Union helps recoup car cash

Local authorities have been warned to check their car mileage allowance schemes after Birmingham City Council (BCC) was ordered to pay more than GBP39,000 to employees who had been underpaid.

All of the claimants’ contracts of employment were specified under the Scheme of conditions of service of the National Joint Council for Local Authorities’ Administrative, Professional, Technical and Clerical Services (known as the Purple book), which outlined four bands for car mileage remuneration.

In October 1993, however, the council made the unilateral decision to scrap the third band of mileage allowance for cars with engines between 1250cc and 1450cc. This came after all local authorities had already negotiated with unions to scrap the highest band (band four) during the same month.

The County Court case, which was brought by the workers’ union GMB, has resulted in the council being ordered to repay between GBP;600 and GBP3,500 to each of the 19 claimants as compensation for removing the third tier.

Roger Jenkins, regional organiser at the GMB, said other local authorities could be at risk of similar claims because all had to review their terms and conditions when implementing the government’s single-status pay initiative to check all staff are remunerated fairly.

He said that any council which had made changes without proper consultation should “start talking to their trade unions and come to some sort of agreement to pay back outstanding monies”.

Jenkins added that the GMB would be taking up the cases of any other local authority workers who believe they have a complaint to uphold.