24 June 2016 #Employment
More than 7,000 Asda employees have brought equal pay claims in the Employment Tribunal, alleging that in-store work such as shelf-stacking and checkout roles (predominantly carried out by female employees) is of equal value to warehouse work (predominantly carried out by men). They claim it is thus unlawful to pay those in-store employees less than the warehouse-based employees. Asda is defending the claims.
Asda applied to have these claims forced out of the ET and into the civil courts on the basis that they are exceptionally complex and have unprecedented implications for the entire retail sector. The ET rejected this argument and Asda’s appeals, to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and subsequently the Court of Appeal, were dismissed. The Court of Appeal found that the claims were not exceptional and that very few High Court judges have experience in equal value claims but ETs have built up the appropriate expertise. The Court of Appeal’s decision was so emphatic that it is unlikely that a further appeal by Asda to the Supreme Court on this point would be successful.
The lead group of claims are currently in the middle of a preliminary ET hearing to decide if the roles in question are comparable for the purpose of an equal pay claim. These hearings will now continue. Watch this space for further updates on this case.