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Asda Equal Pay Case Could Affect Employers

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A recent Supreme Court verdict has found that staff performing various roles at a large supermarket have the basis of an equal pay claim.  This latest case could have ramifications for a wide variety of employers.

Employment Law Case

The case, involving Asda supermarket store staff, means they can now compare themselves with employees at distribution depots for the purpose of equal pay claims under the Equal Pay Act 1970 and Equality Act 2010.

The case dates back to 2016.  An employment tribunal, the employment appeal tribunal and the Court of Appeal have all ruled that these roles can be compared.  The latest and final hearing in the Supreme Court agreed and came to the same conclusion.

Supreme Court Ruling

In upholding an earlier ruling the court found that lower-paid shop employees, mainly women, can now demand equal pay and be classed alongside the higher paid warehouse and distribution workers, mostly men, who are being paid £1.50 - £3 an hour more.

The case involves supermarket store and shop workers and their legal team claim this is a landmark case - ‘the biggest-ever equal pay claim in the UK private sector’ - which will have implications, not only for other supermarkets, but further down the chain for all retail sector staff.

Commenting on the case, Pearson Head of Employment Law, Susan Mayall said:  “Whilst this is good news for Asda shop workers, it also sets a precedent that other shop workers may be able to compare themselves with higher paid warehouse and distribution operatives in different stores.”

Three stages in equal pay action

“There are three stages in equal pay action: Are the jobs comparable? This is what the court has determined.  Now at a further tribunal, the supermarket staff will have to prove that the work is of equal value. Finally, if they are of equal value, is there a reason, other than gender, why the roles should not be paid equally and why staff working in stores should not get the same pay rates as those working in distribution centres?” she added.

The Supreme Court emphasised that the claimants must still go on to show that they performed work of equal value.

“Asda are continuing to defend their case and state that pay in stores and distribution warehouses is the same for staff irrespective of gender, but retail and distribution are different sectors and so need varying skill sets and pay rates – this is a case to keep an eye on and I am sure there will be as always changes to come in employment law based on this case,” said Susan.

For advice on all staff and employment issues, advice on employment tribunals and all areas of employment law contact susan.mayall@pearsonlegal.co.uk or call 0161 785 3500

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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