Employment Tribunal hears second stage of UK’s largest equal pay claim

By agency reporter
May 13, 2019

Tens of thousands of supermarket workers employed by Asda will have the second stage of their equal pay claim heard by the Employment Tribunal in Manchester beginning on Monday 13 May 2019.

The workers, represented by law firm Leigh Day through the website equalpaynow.co.uk, argue that they should be paid equally with their colleagues in the supermarket’s distribution centres for their work of equal value.

The hearing will take place between 13 and 24 May and between 3 and 7 June at the Crown Court in Manchester.
 
Leigh Day represents over 30,000 shop floor staff from the big five supermarkets – Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-Op - in similar equal pay cases. The total estimate of the claims against the big four supermarkets, if they lose their cases and are ordered to pay all eligible staff, could be over £8 billion, according to Leigh Day.

Equal pay cases have three main stages:

  • Are the roles comparable?
  • If the roles are comparable, are they of equal value?
  • If they are of equal value, is there a reason other than sex discrimination that means the roles should not be paid equally?


The Asda workers won the first stage of their case on comparability in the Employment Tribunal in October 2016, Asda then appealed this decision on ten different grounds. In August 2017 the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled all points of their appeal unsuccessful. Asda then appealed this ruling to the Court of Appeal and lost that appeal in January 2019. Asda have requested to further appeal the judgment in the Supreme Court, permission for that appeal is yet to be decided.
 
The Employment Tribunal will next week hear evidence regarding whether the roles of the shop workers in store and workers in the distribution centres are of equal value. 
 
The Asda workers will argue that the work carried out in stores, which is predominantly carried out by women, is of equal value to that carried out in Asda’s distribution centres which is predominantly carried out by men and will argue that as both groups of workers are preforming work of equal value Asda should pay them the same rate of pay.
 
A number of lead claimants from the group of over 30,000 will give evidence about the tasks and responsibilities of their job roles. The claimants span a range of job roles in stores including Checkout Operators, Home Shoppers as well as staff who work in Grocery, Chilled and Home & Leisure departments and on Counters. Asda will then provide witnesses from the distribution centres to give evidence on their roles. Independent Experts appointed by the Employment Tribunal will evaluate the work carried out in both retail and distribution and assist the tribunal to reach it’s conclusion.
 
Lauren Lougheed, solicitors from Leigh Day representing the Asda workers, said: “We have been fighting this case on behalf of our tens of thousands of clients for over five years now. Despite winning the first stage of the case, and two subsequent appeals, Asda continue to drag our clients through the courts, rather than admitting defeat and paying them the fair wages they deserve. We are committed to continuing our fight for equal pay for all our supermarket clients across Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-op.”

The Employment Tribunal will be sitting in the Crown Court in Crown Square, Manchester M3 3FL. However, the first day (13 May) will be spent carrying out site visits at a store and a distribution centre.

* Leigh Day https://www.leighday.co.uk/

[Ekk/6]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.