Asda to face thousands of equal pay claims

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Sep 01, 2017
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Asda had argued that shop workers could not compare themselves to employees in its distribution centres

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

More than 10,000 equal pay claims can go ahead against Asda after the supermarket chain failed to stop the legal actions from proceeding.

Shop workers in the stores, who are mainly women, can compare themselves to better-off workers, who are mainly male, in the supermarket’s distribution centres, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled.

Asda had argued that because different departments ran the shops and distribution centres, and because there were different methods for setting pay, then no comparison was possible.

In a ruling in October, an employment tribunal dismissed Asda’s claims and agreed with the claimants that both sets of workers were employed by Asda and that the pay for all workers was controlled by Asda’s executive board and overseen by their parent company, Walmart.

Asda appealed that decision on ten grounds. All were unsuccessful in the Employment Appeal Tribunal yesterday. Mr Justice Kerr concluded that the original tribunal had been correct in saying that shop workers could compare themselves to the distribution workers

“I find no lack of rationality or perversity in the judge’s reasoning,” he said, adding that “the judge’s overall conclusion that the terms were common in the statutory sense is not impeachable”.

Chris Benson, a partner at the London law firm Leigh Day, which worked with the GMB, the union for the claimants, said: “Asda continues to appeal every point available to them, rather than focusing on paying men in the distribution centres and women in the stores equally, but judges at every level have been adamant that the claims can continue.

“After yet another defeat, we hope that Asda takes this opportunity to reflect on the merits of the claims, and concentrate on why they pay men more than women for jobs of equal value, rather than trying to stop the claims going ahead at all.”

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