Largest ever pay equality case goes back to court

Submitted by sglenister on Wed, 11/10/2017 - 15:56

11 October 2017

Last October, a tribunal ruled that the work of predominantly female shop staff for Asda is of equivalent value to the work of predominantly male warehouse staff and that they should thus receive the same pay. Today, Asda take the case to the appeal.

Leigh Day, the law firm representing the 15,000 female Asda shop workers in their claim, told The Independent that this week's two-day hearing will rest largely on whether independent experts feel the job descriptions for jobs done mostly by women are of roughly equivalent value to the company as those done mostly by men.

If it is agreed that shop workers should receive equal pay, the company would be liable to a pay out of over £100 million to its current and former female staff.

Leigh Day Lawyer Linda Wong told The Independent that a win for the workers could create a landmark legal precedent for gender equality at work, arguing that case law could have a much more significant effect on the gender pay gap – which was reported at 18.1% in 2016 – than new gender pay gap reporting laws.

"It's still not clear what penalties there will be for companies who don't report," she explained. "Really, holding companies and employers to account will only be possible if there is case law precedent."

"There is pervasive gender stereotyping across the retail sector and still a huge amount of ignorance on the matter," Wong added.

Asda initially tried to stop the claim - which is the largest-ever of its kind brought against a private sector employer - by arguing it should be heard in the High Court rather than tribunal, but its appeal failed.

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