Asda Equal pay claim update and what it could mean for Employers

This case has been going on for some time now, so to fill you in on the story so far…

The claimants, are overwhelmingly women who are employed by the supermarket giant Asda. They are arguing that the work they carry out on the shop floor is of equal value to their male colleagues working in the distribution centres and therefore they should be paid the same. At the time of the claim they were paid £4.00 per hour less than their male colleagues and they argued that the reason for the difference was due to the fact that their work has been seen as ‘woman’s work’ and therefore of less value.

To bring an equal pay claim you need to show that your work is:

  1. Like work;
  2. Work of equal value; or
  3. Worked rated as an equivalent,

when compared to an actual person of the opposite sex who is carrying out work in the same organisation but being paid more than you are. This was the argument that the female shop-floor workers put forward.

Asda tried to argue that the retail and distribution arms were separate divisions that were responsible for their own employees’ salary and terms – like two separate legal entities and therefore the employees in each division could not be compared. The Employment Tribunal rejected this argument and said that Asda’s Executive Board was a single source of responsibility and that, therefore, there was cause to compare the value of the roles.

Asda appealed the decision, however the Employment Appeal Tribunal has agreed with the Tribunal’s finding and the appeal has been unsuccessful. This does not mean that the women have been successful in making a claim for equal pay, but they have been successful in identifying that they have a comparator and their claims should be considered. Asda is probably going to appeal this decision again.

This case serves as a useful warning to employers that even though there may be differences between two employees, whether that be locations, divisions, or terms and conditions, there can still be a strong enough link between them to see them as ‘comparators’ in an equal pay claim.

We will keep you updated as things develop.

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