The Supreme Court has upheld an earlier court decision that Asda’s lower-paid store workers, who are mostly women, can in principle compare themselves with better paid warehouse workers, who are primarily men.
The judge highlighted that although the ruling did not mean the claimants had won the right to equal pay, they could now take further action.
Asda’s shop staff, who are mostly women, are claiming that they should be paid the same as Asda’s distribution depot staff, who are mostly men, who were being paid between £1.50 – £3.00 an hour more.
Asda said it pays the appropriate salary for the work involved, regardless of gender, and highlighted that women and men worked in both its warehouses and supermarkets.
The GMB union, which has members involved in the court case, said: “We now call on Asda to sit down with us to reach agreement on the back pay owed to our members – which could run to hundreds of millions of pounds.”
A spokesperson for Asda spokesman said: “This ruling relates to one stage of a complex case that is likely to take several years to reach a conclusion.
“We are defending these claims because the pay in our stores and distribution centres is the same for colleagues doing the same jobs regardless of their gender. Retail and distribution are very different sectors with their own distinct skill sets and pay rates.”
Employment solicitor Ben Lindsay says: “This claim may still have a long way to go. However, this decision means that in pay disparity situations the courts’ focus will usually be on whether the work is of an equal value or the difference can be justified on a non-discriminatory basis, and not on other factors such as where the work is done. However, this is a technical and fact sensitive area on which it would be advisable for you to take specialist advice with any queries.”