Asda equal pay case goes to the Supreme Court

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Supreme Court agrees to hear Leigh Dayequal pay case against Asda
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the equal pay case that law firm Leigh Day has brought against Asda. (Image: Shutterstock)
// Asda equal pay case will head to the Supreme Court
// The UK’s biggest equal pay case was originally brought by Asda shop floor workers, represented by law firm Leigh Day
// Asda has already lost three times and will have one more attempt to appeal

An equal pay case against Asda is heading to the Supreme Court after it agreed to consider an appeal brought by the Big 4 grocer.

The Supreme Court is set to consider whether Asda shop floor workers – most of whom are women – can be compared to predominantly-male distribution centre staff for the purposes of equal pay.

Dubbed the UK’s biggest equal pay case, it was originally brought by Asda shop floor workers who are represented by law firm Leigh Day.

Asda has already lost first stage of the equal pay case three times and will have one more attempt to defeat the claims brought by over 35,000 of it staff.

The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, taking on cases of the public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population.

The Court of Appeal ruled in January this year that the roles of the shop floor workers could be compared to the roles of those in the distribution centres for the purposes of equal pay.

The Employment Tribunal had first issued a similar ruling in October 2016, and this was confirmed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in August 2017.

A date has not yet been set for the final appeal for the Asda equal pay case at the Supreme Court.

“It is disappointing that Asda has refused to accept the ruling of three courts on the issue of comparability,”Leigh Day solicitor Lauren Lougheed said.

“However, our clients from Asda and across all the big five supermarkets should not be disheartened, we are as determined as ever to continue their fight for equal pay.

“We hope that we can win on this issue for the fourth time in the Supreme Court, to prove once and for all that the roles are comparable, and continue on to win the overall fight for equal pay for our clients.”

An Asda spokesperson said: “This equal value case is extremely complex and without precedent in the private sector, so it is vital the issues are given the legal scrutiny they deserve. Whatever the final outcome, the implications for UK businesses, not just in retail, will be far-reaching.

“Leigh Day have also appealed points they have lost. None of the appeals have caused any delay to the case, which continues to progress through the tribunal, but it will still take many years to conclude.

“Our hourly rates of pay in stores are the same for female and male colleagues and this is equally true in our depots. Pay rates in stores differ from pay rates in distribution centres because the demands of the jobs in stores and the jobs in distribution centre are very different; they operate in different market sectors and we pay the market rate in those sectors regardless of gender. ”

Should the Supreme Court rule that the roles in question are comparable, Asda staff will still need to demonstrate that the roles are of equal value in order to win the right to equal pay.

Leigh Day said it represents over 40,000 shop floor staff in total from Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-op – in similar equal pay cases which will be impacted by this judgment.

The law firm said the total estimate of the claims against the five supermarkets, if they lose their cases and are ordered to pay all eligible staff, could be over £8 billion.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I hope these workers win. They deserve every penny. Retail work is notoriously low paid but can be very stressful and those that are customer facing have the most stress of all. These jobs are of equal value. It’s pay up time. Hopefully this will set the precedent. Wilko, watch out!

  2. Come on Asda, working like factory workers in retail, understaffed doing twice the work,underplayed, loads of stress, thinking we can run a store like Aldi or Lidl nearly on the same amounts of staff ,when the four big stores are twice as big

    • You hit the nail on the head, stripping out the business whilst maintaining a shiny face whilst inside the workers suffer from high stress, unachievable targets, bare bones teams, all driven by profit and not maintaining their company values.

      They dont care about the staff, just the job at hand, and what profits they can rake in whilst they slowly work their staff to death. Its a crying shame that ASDA has become the way it has due to american corporate greed.

      A once proud family orientated retailer, ruined by a terrible structure emposed by its new owners over the years. I for one am glad i managed to break out of the hell that was its night work, as that is a side which again hardly gets mentioned. The amount of rules they break on a regular basis is disgusting, and if spot checks were undertaken by the different standards agencies they would be in huge trouble.

      If you speak to any staff member and ask them what they truly think of the company they will tell you. ASDA truly is the definition of retail hell. If Dante had another circle of hell, i think youre looking at it.

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