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Leigh Day launch £4bn equal pay claim against TESCO

Leigh Day launch equal pay claim against supermarket giant TESCO over disparity between store workers and depot workers pay

7 February 2018

Law firm Leigh Day have announced that legal proceedings have begun in the first equal pay claims against Tesco in what is potentially the largest ever equal pay challenge in UK history, which could cost the supermarket giant £4bn to compensate workers.

Lawyers argue that employees working in the predominantly male dominated distribution centres are paid considerably more than the largely female staffed Tesco stores, and may earn in excess of £11.00 an hour whilst the most common grade for store staff sees them receive around £8.00 per hour.

This disparity could see a full time distribution worker on the same hours earning over £100 a week, or £5000 a year more than female based store staff.

According to Leigh Day, who have already started submitting claims on behalf of their clients through ACAS, the first stage in the Employment Tribunal process, the underpayment of workers could apply to in excess of 200,000 Tesco employees, with estimated pay shortfalls that could reach £20,000, the final bill for Tesco could be as high as £4bn

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Lawyers have confirmed they have already been approached by over 1000 employees and ex-employees of the supermarket. In June 2016 the Employment Tribunal found that lower paid female ASDA workers, also represented by Leigh Day, could compare themselves to higher paid men who work in ASDA's distribution centres.

Alongside the claim against Tesco, Leigh Day are currently representing over 20,000 shop-floor workers in equal pay claims against fellow supermarket giants Sainsbury's and ASDA, who both face similar claims of discrepancies in pay between the male dominated distribution centres and the mainly female staffed stores.

Paula Lee, the lawyer from the Employment Team at Leigh Day who is representing the Tesco women, said: "We believe an inherent bias has allowed store workers to be underpaid for many years.

"In terms of equal worth to the company there really should be no argument that workers in stores, compared to those working in distribution centres, contribute at least equal value to the vast profits made by Tesco which last year had group sales of £49.9bn."

The claims follow recent controversies involving equal pay in both the private and public sector. Last month the resignation of Carrie Gracie as China Editor for the BBC led to an investigation over equal pay at the corporation.

Ms Lee said the huge sums being paid to the company's management team were deeply at odds with those on the shop-floor who just want to be paid at the same rate as their male counterparts in other similar areas of the business.

"According to the latest Annual Report from Tesco the remuneration package for the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Financial Officer totalled £7.3m, yet figures show that Tesco employees are having to claim millions of pounds in working tax credits, paying people fairly benefits the whole of society.

"In the week where we have marked the 100 year anniversary since women began to get the vote, the time has come for companies and public organisations to have a long hard look at themselves, to see the inequality which is still deeply entrenched in their organisations." added Ms Lee.

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