Policewomen win sex bias case over antisocial hours

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Two policewomen have won a sex discrimination ruling that gives working mothers the same right as men to be paid allowances for working antisocial hours.

The decision means thousands of mothers and carers working in frontline police posts could be entitled to top-ups to their wages worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, despite never working night shifts.

Susan Blackburn and Victoria Manley, both mothers working for the West Midlands Police, had fought a three-year legal battle for the right to equal pay. The West Midlands force argued that officers who are also working mothers could not qualify for the disruption pay, known as "24/7".

Ms Blackburn and Ms Manley, now based at Acocks Green police station in Birmingham, did not work overnight because of childcare responsibilities but claimed they should still be entitled to the allowance as their job was no less demanding than that of officers who performed the same role but who worked the night shift.

The Chief Constable of West Midlands disagreed, claiming that the role was more demanding for officers who were available to work at night.

An employment tribunal rejected the police argument, finding that there was no material difference between the work carried out at night and the work carried out during the day. It concluded that West Midlands Police could not justify treating the female officers differently.

The tribunal ruled that the female officers were entitled to the same rate of pay as their male colleagues, including the special 24/7 payments.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said the force was considering the judgment.