// Asda is facing an equal pay battle which is now heading to the Supreme Court
// The case has been ongoing since 2016
// Asda has hired David Pannick QC to help fight its appeal
Asda’s equal pay battle is heading to the Supreme Court on Monday over allegations brought forward by more than 43,000 supermarket workers.
The Walmart-owned grocer is now asking the UK’s highest court to overturn earlier court rulings that found that the pay of store workers, who are mostly women, can be directly compared with that of mainly male depot staff in its distribution operation, who are better paid.
The case, which has been ongoing since 2016, is expected to be closely watched by other major retailers including Tesco, Morrison, Sainsbury’s and Next, which are facing similar equal pay allegations.
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The claimants are seeking compensation of between £10,000 and £20,000 each.
If they are successful, their lawyers Leigh Day said the retail sector could face £8 billion in compensation payments.
Meanwhile, Asda has hired barrister David Pannick QC to help fight its appeal.
The Big 4 grocer has said the women who have put forward the allegations and mainly work in its 630 stores, are not able to compare themselves with workers at its 24 distribution centres because they are two “markedly different physical environments” that “demand different skill sets”.
Previous court hearings have been shown an Asda document from 2011 that said retail staff were “made up of predominantly part-time females” who are working at Asda “ to support the main household bread winner”.
GMB union legal director Susan Harris said: “Three courts have already ruled in favour of Asda’s predominantly women shop-floor workforce.”
“We hope and believe the Supreme Court will uphold their rulings and finally get pay justice for our members.”
The Supreme Court is only examining the legal question of whether the warehouse and shop-floor roles are comparable.
A second round of the litigation is already being heard by a Manchester court, which is assessing whether the two types of job are of equal value and so should be paid the same.
Depot workers currently receive higher pay than shop-floor workers, with court papers showing that the 2014 hourly base rate for retail staff in Warrington was £6.89, while a warehouse operative at the Warrington depot earned £9.43.
Asda said the case was “extremely complex and without precedent in the private sector”.
“Our hourly rates of pay in stores are the same for male and female colleagues,” it added.