Tesco is facing a record £4bn equal pay claim

Feb 08, 2018, 09:33
Tesco is facing a record £4bn equal pay claim

United Kingdom law firm Leigh Day has launched the legal action which alleges the primarily male distribution centres were being paid more than the primarily female shop assistants.

Lawyers claim that the company's hourly-paid female store staff earn up to £3 per hour less than their male colleagues, although the value of their work is comparable.

A law that came into force past year requires businesses with 250 or more workers to publish information about their pay gap by April.

Paula Lee, of Leigh Day solicitors, the firm acting for up to 1,000 women who are likely to take test cases, told the BBC it was time for Tesco to tackle the problem of equal pay for work of equal worth.

Leigh Day said it was also now representing over 20,000 shop-floor workers in equal pay claims against fellow Big 4 retailers Sainsbury's and Asda, who both face similar legal challenges regarding discrepancies in pay between the male-dominated distribution centres and the mainly female-staffed stores.

It has lodged complaints with the conciliation service Acas on behalf of nearly 100 staff ahead of an employment tribunal process which has already led to similar, continuing claims against Asda and Sainsbury (Amsterdam: SJ6.AS - news) 's, involving thousands of staff.

Lauren Lougheed, of Leigh Day, said the case follows similar claims being made by the law firm on behalf of workers in Asda and Sainsbury's.

Thousands could receive back pay totalling £20,000 if the legal challenge demanding equal pay with men who work in Tesco's warehouses is successful.

They are still working their way through the legal system.

A Tesco spokesman said: "We are unable to comment on a claim that we have not received".

Similar earlier actions alleging pay inequality are being pursued against Tesco's competitors, Asda and Sainsbury's and are going through the employment tribunal process.

Tesco is not alone in facing gender pay-related claims.

The Asda case involves almost 20,000 shopworkers and the most recent ruling backed their right to compare their jobs to those of their mostly male colleagues working in distribution centres.

The supermarket chain has defended itself and said it had taken the necessary steps to ensure all staff were paid "fairly and equally" but Lee insisted the issue had been allowed to linger on for over three decades.

But she said the company - along with many others - was still failing to reward people equally.

"What we needed to see was a serious extension of rights to workers and a serious proposal on government enforcement of employment law, not just a consultation on the topic".