The Supreme Court has today (26 March 2021) ruled that shop floor staff in Asda supermarkets are entitled to a wage equal to that of their colleagues in the chain’s distribution warehouses.
Shop floor supermarket staff are predominantly female and warehouse staff are predominantly male. Workers argued that both job roles are equivalent to each other in terms of skill requirements and value to the company, and thus should offer the same wage. The devaluing of work associated with women has been blamed for the disparity in pay for the two roles.
The workers have now won the argument four times, after the case progressed from the Employment Tribunal, to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, to the Court of Appeal, and finally to the Supreme Court.
Asda is not the only supermarket facing legal action for pay differences between these two job-types, with Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Co-Op all within the frame.
Declaring it a “massive victory”, the workers’ union GMB is now calling on the employer to meet with it to discuss compensation for the nearly 40,000 affected workers, which it estimates could reach £500m.
“Asda has wasted money on lawyers’ bills chasing a lost cause, losing appeal after appeal, while tens of thousands of retail workers remain out of pocket,” Susan Harris, GMB Legal Director, said.
Lauren Lougheed, partner at law firm, Leigh Day, which worked with GMB to fight the case, said: “Already an employment tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal ruled that these roles can be compared, and now the Supreme Court has come to the same conclusion.
“It’s our hope that Asda will now stop dragging its heels and pay their staff what they are worth.”