Equal Pay for Equal Work: Supermarket Claim

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What does equal pay for equal work mean?

Ten years ago, the Equality Act 2010 was introduced to help employees doing work of equal value receive equal pay. The equal pay legislation made this a legal obligation which must be upheld by every employer in Great Britain.

Despite this, men and women working in supermarket stores across the UK are still being subjected to unequal and unfair pay. So, in a time where equality in the workplace is a legal right, how is it that this issue still affects the thousands of supermarket store workers employed in the UK?


What is the law on equal pay?

The Equality Act 2010  provides a legal right to equal pay between women and men for equal work. This includes co-workers who work for the same employer whose role is different, but their work is rated as equivalent, or is of equal value.

This Act protects against things like sex discrimination, and also states that ‘all employees have the right to equal pay’ and ‘the equal pay provisions in the Act apply to men and women.’

This means that any employee in the UK who is working under an employment contract is protected under the provisions set out by the Act. Those employees include:

  • Full-time workers
  • Part-time workers or those working on an hourly basis
  • Temporary workers
  • Apprentices
  • Self-employed workers with a contract personally to do work


Supermarket equal pay claim

Currently there are tens of thousands of supermarket store workers across the UK who are paid less than their colleagues who work in warehouses and distribution centres. Supermarket workers bringing the claim believe that the ‘big five’ UK supermarkets have wrongly deemed that those working in stores have less taxing jobs than those working in the distribution centres.

This decision has been made despite both roles have broadly similardemands. This is being challenged by nation-wide law firm, Leigh Day, who are bringing claims against the supermarkets on behalf of more than 40,000 supermarket store workers.

In October 2016, Leigh Day successfully argued that the roles of ASDA store workers and warehouse workers were comparable. This ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal in January 2019. ASDA has now failed in their arguments that the roles are not comparable on three occasions: in the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal. The case will now be brought to the Supreme Court. The supermarket will have one more chance to defend themselves against the claim brought by over 35,000 employees.


Who is eligible for the claim?

Any employee, male or female who has worked in a Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons or Sainsburys store in  England or Scotland over the last six months, and who is or was paid an hourly wage is eligible to join the claim.

Those who join the claim could receive up to six years back-pay as compensation if the claims are successful. If you believe you are eligible, or you would like some legal advice about the claim, you can call 020 7650 1200 or join the claim here.


Is there a time limit on the claim?

Although you have a time limit of  six months from the end of your contract to start an equal pay claim, currently there is no restriction on joining  any of the supermarket claims. However, joining the claim early means that you will secure your right to compensation. If you are still employed, the amount of work you can claim for, and the compensation you could receive, increases as the disputes continue. So,* it is better to join the claim early.


Will my trade union support this claim?

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) defends the rights of supermarket workers across the UK. In the past they have worked to close the gender pay gap across supermarkets. However are yet to support these specific claims. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make a claim. You will be supported every step of the way by the expert lawyers at Leigh Day.


Can I join the claim if I still work for a supermarket?

The simple answer is yes. Under the Equality Act 2010 it would be unlawful for your employer to end your employment because you joined the claim. Your employer cannot take any action against you as a result of you joining the claim.

If you think you are eligible to join the claim, or are aware of anybody who might be, please visit www.equalpaynow.com or speak to an expert advisor today on 020 7650 1200.

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