INSIGHT: Battle for equal pay for shop floor stackers
Employment tribunal ruling which could open the flood gates to further claims
An Employment Tribunal in Manchester has ruled that women who work at a major supermarket can pursue a claim for equal pay, this could open the floodgates for similar claims within the food and retail sectors, say employment lawyers.
The tribunal ruled that lower-paid women who work in Asda on the shop floor can compare themselves to higher-paid men who work in Asda’s distribution centres and warehouses. It means that workers can proceed with their claims for equal pay in the UK’s largest private sector equal pay claim.
Former and current employees, mostly female feel they have been paid less than others in the organisation despite carrying out roles of equal value. The case could have far reaching implications for other supermarkets or retailers.
If the women win their case the retailer could be forced to adjust the pay of many of its 130,000 shop floor staff, and make back payments to those involved in the case going back to 2002, at an estimated cost of up to £100m.
It is alleged the women typically earned between £1 and £3 an hour less than staff at Asda’s distribution centres.
The shop floor workers say they are doing jobs of equal value, but are paid less because their work was historically perceived as “women’s work” and therefore thought to be worth less than men’s work and claim that this historical discrimination has never been corrected by the firm.
Supermarket bosses argued the roles could not be compared because they were carried out in different locations. However, the judgment, which followed a Manchester employment tribunal hearing in June, deemed that this was not the case, paving the way for an equal pay case in which judges will examine the value of the jobs being done.
Andrew Murray, employment solicitor at Pearson’s said: “Employees in a number of business across all sectors may be looking at this case, considering their pay packet in comparison to colleagues and looking to the tribunal for direction as there is no doubt disparity in wages across many firms.”
Following the ruling Asda issued a statement saying: “We believe the demands of the jobs are very different and are considering our options for appeal.”
At the hearing in June, Asda argued that its distribution and retail sectors were “fundamentally different” and that they operated in different environments and required different skill sets. The judge heard witness statements from five workers with different roles on the shop floor, including a personal shopper from the Brighton Marina store and a former checkout operator in Wirral.
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Also in this issue:
- It is Uber Difficult When You Face a Tribunal
- Battle for equal pay for shop floor stackers
- Checklist: dress codes in the workplace
- Commission, Holiday Pay and Employment Law
- Landlord's Liability for Uneven Surface Outside Scope of Lease
- In Business With a Friend? Don't Dispense With Formalities
- Brexit and Business, HMRC, Dividend Rules, Payroll and Taxation
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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