The supermarket has suffered a further loss in their attempt to appeal against a ruling that store workers should be paid the same as warehouse staff.
Asda had looked to challenge a previous ruling made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that the jobs of store workers were comparable to those who work in the company’s distribution centres. However, the Court of Appeal have dismissed this appeal on the grounds that both sets of workers shared ‘common terms and conditions’ (our report on this decision can be read here).
This ruling is the first step of a three stage legal battle launched by thousands of predominately female store workers, who have so far been able to successfully argue that their job roles should be compared against the roles of predominately male warehouse staff.
Even though Asda has fallen short at this hurdle, it will now be up to the workers to convince an employment tribunal that the respective roles are of equal value and that there is no other reason, aside from their sex, which warrants the difference in pay.
In a statement given last October, Andrew Short, the legal representative for the workers confirmed that staff believe their work is ‘of equal value’ and ‘that there is no good reason for the difference in pay’.
This case is currently one of four similar ongoing disputes involving other major UK supermarkets Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons. Leigh Day, who are responsible for representing the workers in each of these cases estimate that potential compensation could total as much as £8billion.
Although Asda’s case is far from over, it does offer a timely reminder of how courts will judge equal pay claims. Organisations should remember that when addressing an equal pay dispute staff do not necessarily have to identify a comparator in the same job role, but rather someone whose participates in like work, work rated as equivalent or work of equal value.
With this in mind, organisations are reminded to keep a close eye on the work undertaken by their staff and ensure that salaries remain fair an equal across the board.