Earlier this year the Court of appeal upheld a decision from the Employment Appeal Tribunal which will allow Asda store workers to compare themselves to warehouse workers in their on-going long running equal pay dispute. This will enable over 5,000 employees, both current and former workers of Asda supermarket to bring landmark cases with regards to Equal Pay and Equal Value.
This will allow roles in the store to be compared with higher paid roles in the warehouse, which are predominately occupied by male employees. If shop workers can prove that their work is of equal value to their colleagues in the warehouse, and therefore they are being underpaid, they will have a case.
This could allow a range of other claims against retailers to proceed. ASDA has said that they are “disappointed with the decision” and the prelimary issue of whether jobs in different parts of their business can be compared.
Employers, in response, regardless of their size, would be mindful to adopt the following courses of action.
Review their contracts to ensure that they are not exposed to a similar challenge. In part of the judgement for this case it was concluded that Asda had applied common terms and conditions regardless of the area or location the employees worked in.
Consider a comprehensive set of job evaluations across their organisation to justify any difference in pay structures that may exist. Commentators on this case have claimed that “workers may have won the battle, but the war is far from over”. They will now need to prove that the roles are of equal value and then whether there is any reason beyond gender for not paying the roles equally.
This is one to watch. This landmark case could open the floodgates for other claims.
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