26th March 2021

Asda workers’ victory at Supreme Court in equal pay battle

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In yet another landmark case at the Supreme Court, thousands of Asda supermarket workers have today won a major victory in their battle for equal pay.

Although the judge stressed that this ruling does not mean that the claimants have won the right to equal pay, the court has upheld an earlier court ruling that lower-paid shop workers, who are mostly women, can compare themselves with higher paid warehouse workers, who are mostly men.

An Asda spokesman has said there is a long way to go before the issues are finally settled, but many other retailers fighting similar equal pay claims will be watching very closely as this case progresses.

An equal pay claim has three stages:

  • Are the jobs comparable?
  • If the jobs are comparable, are they of equal value?
  • If they are of equal value, is there a reason why the roles should not be paid equally?

Today’s Supreme Court ruling has decided the first stage so now the claimants move on to stage two which will be an employment tribunal deciding whether specific store and distribution jobs are of ‘equal value’.

If the employment tribunal decides that different jobs are of ‘equal value’, the case will then move on to the third and final stage when a tribunal must consider whether there are reasons – other than gender – why people working in stores should not get the same pay rates as people working in distribution centres.

With stores including Morrison’s, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Next all subject to similar claims, the retail sector could face £8bn in compensation payments to employees if the claims are successful.

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