The Supreme court has confirmed that Asda workers who work in the stores can be compared to their colleagues who work in the distribution centre.
What does this mean?
This means that store employees may now be able to bring equal pay claims if they find they that the employees in the distribution centres are being paid more as the Court has decided that the roles are comparable. This ruling is likely to have a major impact on not just Asda, but the wider supermarket industry. This is significant in that many of the store staff are women with a larger proportion of men working within the distribution.
In theory, if all major supermarkets were to lose their cases, this could lead to a backdated pay out claim totalling £8bn. Employees can claim up to 6 years of lost pay.
What is to follow?
This decision only forms the first part of a 3-stage test and the Employment Tribunal will now hear representations in respect of the second and third stages to determine if equal pay should be given and if so, in what circumstances.
The remaining stages are:
Stage 2: To determine whether the store and distribution roles are of “equal value”. To do this, the judge will compare the two jobs and assess how hard each job is and what skills are needed.
Stage 3: To consider if factors outside of gender determine the reason why the roles are not paid equally such as length of service and/or geographical area. This is known as a ‘material factor defence’.
It may be months before the next stage is decided.