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Asda equal pay claim reaches Court of Appeal

on Thursday, 11 October 2018.

Asda equal pay claim reaches Court of Appeal

A three-day hearing at the Court of Appeal has begun after Asda rejected the ruling which found that its shop and warehouse staff carry out comparable jobs and should be paid equally.

The claim focuses on whether workers in Asda’s stores, who are mainly female, could compare themselves to men who worked in Asda’s distribution centres who are paid more than store staff. Back in September 2017, Asda lost its case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal over equal pay comparability but was granted the right to appeal. 

All four of the UK’s big-named supermarkets currently have equal pay claims against them. However, the Asda claim is the furthest along and the outcome of this hearing is likely to have implications for the other equal pay cases. Leigh Day, the employment lawyers representing the claimants, estimates that the total value of the claims against the big four supermarkets if they lose their cases and are ordered to pay all eligible staff, could be more than £8 billion.

Lauren Lougheed, lead lawyer for the Asda case from Leigh Day, said: “We are ready to fight once again for our ever-increasing group of supermarket clients who rightly demand equal pay for doing a job of equal worth to Asda.
 
“We believe Asda are dragging their heels in this case and preventing our clients from getting fair pay and are denying shop floor workers their rights by appealing the two previous decisions against them, forcing them to go through yet another hearing when we have clearly shown that the roles on the shop floor and those in the distribution centres can be compared and should therefore be paid equally.
 
“We hope that the Court of Appeal will agree with the two previous decisions on this matter and dismiss Asda’s appeal.”

An Asda spokesperson told Employee Benefits: “This equal value case is extremely complex and without precedent in the private sector, so it is vital the issues are given the legal scrutiny they deserve. Whatever the final outcome, the implications for UK businesses, not just in retail, will be far reaching. Leigh Day have also appealed points they have lost. None of the appeals have caused any delay to the case, which continues to progress through the Tribunal, but it will still take many years to conclude.

“Our hourly rates of pay in stores are the same for female and male colleagues and this is equally true in our depots. Pay rates in stores differ from pay rates in distribution centres because the demands of the jobs in stores and the jobs in distribution [centres] are very different; they operate in different market sectors and we pay the market rate in those sectors regardless of gender.”