Supermarket giant Tesco is facing a potential £4 billion equal pay claim after thousands of female workers demanded parity with their male colleagues.
Lawyers say that hourly-paid female store staff earn less than men, who are largely employed in warehouses, even though the value of the work is comparable.
If the claim is successful, the women could receive back pay totalling £20,000, with up to 200,000 workers affected. Currently, the most common pay rate for women is £8 an hour whereas for men the hourly rate can be as high as £11 an hour.
The case is another stark warning to employers on the importance of gender pay equality – an issue that has been in the headlines repeatedly in recent months, following the implementation in
April of regulations requiring that all private sector organisations with at least 250 employees must publish details of their pay gap.
Initial claims have been lodged with the conciliation service, ACAS – the first stage in what is likely to be a lengthy legal process through the employment tribunal system which could last several years.
Birmingham City Council is now liable for over £1bn pounds in payments after settling an equal pay claim from women employed as cleaners, cooks and carers. Their pay was below men in comparable jobs such as bin collectors and road workers.
In 2016, an employment tribunal ruled that 9,500 women who work at Asda on check-outs or stacking shelves, could compare themselves to higher paid men who work at warehouses. Asda is currently appealing the ruling.
Tesco said that all their staff could progress equally and were paid fairly, whatever their gender or background.
How can Gotelee’s Employment Law Solicitors help you?
Understanding your legal obligations around gender pay can be complex. The danger of ignoring the issue is only likely to lead to problems being compounded and stored up for the future, and potentially exposing your organisation to greater risk of equal pay and sex discrimination claims.
Employers, more than ever before, need sound and clear employment law advice on how to manage these risks and to implement changes needed to avoid them.
Gotelee’s team of employment law experts, based in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Melton, can help you. To find out more about what we can do, contact Andrew West on 01473 298102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Marie Allen on 01473 298133 or email email@example.com