09 March 2018
Morrisons is facing an equal pay claim expected to be worth as much as £100m in compensation on the heels of similar cases being brought against major supermarkets across the UK.
Shop-floor workers in large food retailers are more likely to be female, and warehouse workers are more likely to be male. It has been highlighted in cases against ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and now Morrisons that warehouse workers take home a higher wage, but it is argued their work is about equal in value to the company to that of shop-floor workers. Under equal pay laws, this would make the employer liable to provide the same wage and other benefits (such as holiday pay) to shop floor workers as they do warehouse workers.
In the ASDA case, this argument has been accepted, setting an optimistic precedent for the potential success of claims against other retailers.
At Morrisons, around 70% of shop-floor workers are women, and they are paid almost £2 less than distribution centre staff (who are mostly men). The law firm bringing the case – Roscoe Reid – believes that up to 25,000 staff may have a claim.
Tesco is facing a challenge from Leigh Day, which claims that over 200,000 Tesco workers could have been underpaid by £20,000, racking up £4bn in total compensation sought by the law firm on behalf of shop workers.
Ellie Pinnells, a lawyer at Roscoe Reid, said: “We fully expect these claims to succeed and we also expect many more current and former store workers to join our current group of claimants.
“The basis for equal pay claims was established almost 50 years ago with the Equal Pay Act 1970. That gender pay discrimination still exists in such a large and successful company such as Morrisons is surprising to say the least.”