Record Payout for Part-Time Lecturer £25,000 Award in Landmark Ruling

A part-time lecturer has won record compensation after claiming she was paid less than her colleagues despite working more hours.

Susan Birch-Maxton was awarded £25,000 and given a full-time contract at Leeds Metropolitan University following a three-year legal battle.

Her union, NATFHE, said the award was a landmark case that could affect the wages of millions of other part-time workers.

“I sought a fair deal after reading about new laws to protect part-time employees,” said Mrs. Birch-Maxton, from Harrogate.
“My employers seemed sympathetic but said the university simply could not afford fractional contracts.

“Most colleagues were sympathetic, though the phrase ‘part-time’ still conjures up ‘pin-money’ in the minds of some grey-suited men of a certain age. It has been three years of immense pressure, but I simply could not accept such a patently unfair situation.

“Litigation is not for the faint-hearted or those acting alone, but I had the support of my union NATFHE, for which I am immensely grateful.

“The money will pay off debts, but I hope this result will help the thousands of part-time staff in education who suffer similar discrimination. Now I just want to get on with my life and my career.”

The settlement was made just before the final hearing of her employment tribunal.

NATFHE said it may have implications for the pay and conditions of millions of part-time workers in education, building, catering and hospitality. Union bosses have also said the settlement was a breakthrough in efforts to win fair treatment for the 30,000 hourly paid lecturers.

“The case establishes that part-time lecturers are entitled to equal, pro-rata pay rates to full-time colleagues,” said NATFHE general secretary Paul Mackney.

“The settlement shows that the employer saw the justice of the case and that the only equitable solution was to give Susan Birch a full-time job with a record amount of compensation for the difficulties she has suffered.

“This will bring confidence and hope to thousands of badly paid lecturers in further and higher education.”

Mrs. Birch-Maxton, 52, has worked for Leeds Met for seven years as a lecturer in the teaching of English as a foreign language and as a teacher trainer.

For several years she taught more hours than colleagues who were employed on full-time contracts doing broadly similar work, yet earned as much as £10,000 a year less.

She is the first hourly paid UK teaching professional to successfully use the Part Time Workers (Less Favorable Treatment) Regulations 2000 to challenge an employer on the difference in treatment between part-time hourly paid and full-time staff.

A Leeds Met spokeswoman said: “While we would not normally comment on individual employment matters, we would wish to make the point that the tribunal did not reach a conclusion on the substance of the claim, and no decision was made that establishes a precedent or affects the position of part-time hourly paid staff generally within the University or elsewhere in the sector.”

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