On Monday 20 June 2016, a seven-day hearing began in the largest private sector equal pay claim ever brought. It is estimated that the claim, if successful, could cost ASDA over 100 million pounds. It could also have wide-ranging implications for other employers, particularly those in the retail sector.
It is understood that the number of claimants now attached to the claim is approximately 7,000. The key point in this case is the issue of job evaluation. Any female employee is entitled to enjoy contractual terms that are as favourable as those of a male comparator, if they are employed in jobs of equal value.
The Employment Tribunal has been asked to determine whether the supermarket’s in-store staff jobs, which are mainly held by female workers, are of equal value, and are therefore comparable, to higher-paid jobs in the company’s male-dominated distribution centres.
If the Tribunal does in fact find that the roles constitute work of equal value, workers could be entitled to six years’ back pay for the difference in earnings. It is not yet clear when we can expect a decision, but it is likely that this case has a long way to go and we anticipate that, whatever the Employment Tribunal’s decision, the future may hold a number of appeals to the higher courts.