The latest hearing in the UK’s largest ever private sector equal pay claim is due to kick off today, in a case that could eventually see around 15,000 predominantly female Asda workers recovering well over £100m in pay.
The hearing follows a judgment in October last year which found that lower paid shop workers – mostly women – can compare themselves to higher paid workers in Asda’s distribution centres, who are mostly men, because their jobs are of roughly equivalent value to the company. Asda appealed that ruling unsuccessfully but it is now appealing again. The hearing will primarily be concerned with the process for writing and agreeing descriptions for jobs that are mostly done by women and jobs mostly done by men. If the job descriptions are deemed by independent experts to be of similar or the same value to the company, then both should be compensated equally. Asda initially tried to stop the claims from proceeding in the Employment Tribunal, arguing that they should be heard in the High Court, but the Court of Appeal ruled that the employment tribunal is the appropriate place for the claims to be heard. At present, it is not clear how long the case will last but it has the potential to be a landmark decision that could prevent women earning less than men the UK. We continue to follow this case carefully and will of course provide regular updates.