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Asda loses latest round of equal pay case

Following a long-running equal pay dispute, the Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that Asda store staff can compare their roles with those in the supermarket’s distribution centres.

FOOD & DRINK

Asda loses latest round of equal pay case

Following a long-running equal pay dispute, the Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that Asda store staff can compare their roles with those in the supermarket’s distribution centres.

Asda had appealed two previous rulings which found that lower paid shop workers, who are mostly women, can compare themselves to higher paid workers in Asda’s distribution centres, who are mostly men.

The store staff are claiming that they should be paid equally to their colleagues in the supermarket’s distribution centres for their work of equal value.

Leigh Day, the law firm representing tens of thousands of store staff, said the judgment marked a major step forward in the fair pay battle. It is also representing shop floor staff from Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons in equal pay cases.

This latest judgment follows a three-day hearing at the Court of Appeal which took place in October 2018. Judges have now ruled that in the vast majority of cases the law allows an employee to compare themselves with any employee of the same employer.

The Asda staff now have to prove that their roles are of equal value and if this is correct, whether there is a reason other than sex discrimination why they should not have equal pay.

Linda Wong, a lawyer from the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “Our clients are obviously delighted to have won this major victory against Asda and we now hope that rather than continuing to spend huge sums of money thwarting attempts to pay their staff what they are worth, Asda and the other major supermarkets pay their staff fairly as these workers are also their customers and fair wages benefit all businesses and UK society in general."

The law firm said 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 amount to over £8 billion.

Commenting on the judgment, Asda said: “At Asda 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.”

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