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The fight for equal pay – one step closer?

Deborah Francis

6th February 2019

Asda has lost the first stage of its appeal against a ruling that staff working in store, warehouse and distribution centres deserve equal hourly pay.

In what is regarded as a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal have upheld that the work done by female store staff is comparable to that carried out by men in the warehouse and distribution centre in terms of their pay rates.

The story is the same in three of the other big supermarkets; Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons with all three facing similar claims. One hundred female staff at Tesco are pursuing equal pay claims to try and recover sums of around £20,000 each in respect of  underpayment.

Leigh Day, the law firm representing over 30,000 store staff across all three supermarkets said if the supermarkets lose their cases they could be ordered to pay out more than £8billion.

In response, Asda said that they’re disappointed with the judgment and remain confident in their case. The final ruling over whether the work is of equal value is expected in May 2019.

The case marks another step in the long road to equal pay. The first claim was made in 1832 by women working in the labour exchange. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970, requiring employers to pay members of staff that do the same or comparable work equally, regardless of their gender. In 2018, new rules demanding that businesses employing over 250 people are transparent about pay rates came into effect. Businesses were given time to address pay inequalities before their data was published (businesses are required to report their data on 5 April each year).

Do you have concerns over equal pay?

If you are an employer and you want to check you are complying with equal pay obligations, or an employee who is being paid less than someone in a comparative role, then please contact our employment law specialist Deborah Francis for advice and a no obligation discussion.

Call 01273 384008 or email Deborah at d.francis@griffithsmith.co.uk

Author: Deborah Francis, Associate Solicitor – Brighton Office


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