Local Governments and NHS Trusts have seen their fair share of equal pay claims. Now the first of the large claims against private sector employers are starting to progress, and the cost implications for them could be very high.
The basis of these, and other, equal pay claims claims is that the mainly female group of employees feel that the work they do is largely viewed as ‘women’s work’ which has historically been undervalued. However, they do not agree with this view and believe that the work that they do is of equal value to the employer as the work done by their mainly male counterparts carrying out a different role. Accordingly, they believe that they should receive the same pay.
In Brierley and others v Asda it has been decided that a group of mainly female hourly paid employees who work in Asda’s retail operation could compare themselves to a group of mainly male hourly paid employees working in Asda’s distribution depots. This was because their employment terms stemmed from a single source and they were employed by the same employer under common terms of employment, despite them working at different sites.
This decision does not mean that the Tribunal has decided that Asda has breached Equal Pay laws. However, this decision is an important first hurdle that the Claimants have overcome.
In the event that the Tribunal does find in the retail employees’ favour then it will certainly be a costly decision, with some commentators believing such claims would cost Asda an estimated £100 million in back pay.
If you have any questions about equal pay or employment rights, then we can help.
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