That’s Asda Price (Supreme Court rules against Asda in store workers’ fight for equal pay)

30 March 2021

Judgment: On 26 March 2021, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling, made by an Employment Tribunal in 2016, that Asda retail staff can compare themselves to warehouse distribution workers in their battle for equal pay. The decision is the first stage in a case that could lead to a multi-million pound claim for compensation and an increase in pay for shop workers.

Over 40,000 Asda shop workers have joined the claim. The case is being led by female store workers who brought discrimination claims after stating that they should be paid the same amount as warehouse workers, roles mainly taken up by men, who receive between £1.50 and £3 an hour more.

The Court’s landmark ruling will have an impact on similar ongoing claims brought by shop workers against other major supermarkets such as Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Co-op, which could result in back pay amounting to £8 billion.

Supermarket shop workers have traditionally been women, whilst warehouse workers have traditionally been men. Asda shop workers that have joined the claim say that the difference in pay is the result of a historic gender pay gap between the two roles. They also say that there is a mistaken belief that shop work is less demanding than work undertaken in warehouses and distribution centres.

Moving forward:  Whilst the above is a significant ruling, the legal fight is not over and the next stage involves the Employment Tribunal considering whether work undertaken by Asda shop workers and warehouse workers is “equal work”.

The Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”) states that men and women in the same employment, performing equal work, must be paid the same unless employers are able to justify a difference in pay. The Act defines “equal work” as:-

  1. Like work– broadly similar role with similar daily tasks which requires similar knowledge and skills;
  2. Rated as equivalent work– work which has been rated as of equal value on a job evaluation study in terms of demands made on the worker;
  3. Work of equal value– work which is not the same and has not be rated as equivalent, but is equal in value in terms of factors such as effort, skill and decision-making.

In the final stage the Employment Tribunal will consider whether there are any factors, other than gender, that provide a further explanation for the difference in pay.

Whilst the Asda case is likely to go on for a number of years before a conclusion is reached, if they lose, the supermarket giant could be required to up to £500 million to its employees in back pay. This outcome could have a huge impact on the way in which supermarket staff are paid in future.

What to do if you feel you are not receiving equal pay?

If you are not receiving equal pay to someone who works in the same organisation as you, who is of the opposite sex and does “equal work”, then you should speak to your employer, if you can, to try and resolve the issue in this manner. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your employer, then you may be able to make a discrimination claim to an Employment Tribunal.

Please feel free to contact our specialist Employment Law Team for independent legal advice if you wish to discuss equal pay claims. If you are an employee you can contact our team by clicking here. If you are an employer who may wish to discuss potential equal pay issues, whether you have already received a claim, or to take pro-active action to limit the possibility of a claim, contact our team by clicking here.

This article was produced for Redkite Solicitors by Joshua Jones and Tessa Charles. To find out more about Joshua and Tessa follow the links below to their individual profiles:-

Joshua Jones

Tessa Charles

 

 

 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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