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Every little helps: how equal value claims are addressing unequal pay in the workplace

Earlier today employment partner Emma Satyamurti was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussing the importance of pay and benefits in achieving equality. Here, she looks at the role Leigh Day’s Equal Pay Now campaign is playing in addressing the balance.

Posted on 20 October 2021

Earlier today employment partner Emma Satyamurti was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussing the importance of pay and benefits in achieving equality. Here, she looks at the role Leigh Day’s Equal Pay Now campaign is playing in addressing the balance.

Woman’s Hour has been on the air for 75 years which is a fantastic anniversary to be celebrating. What isn’t cause for celebration is the results of their poll exploring how much women believe gender equality has progressed since the show was first broadcast.

It revealed that 70% of respondents feel pay and benefits are still not equal.

Find out more about our Equal Pay Now claim

Given that Leigh Day represents 55,000 shop floor workers in our Equal Pay Now campaign the result of the poll shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but it does show just how important these claims are in the quest for equality.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that pay equality has been dealt with because paying a man more than a woman for doing the same job is illegal. In fact, the supermarkets often fall back on the line that men and women in the same role are paid the same.

But this isn’t the issue we are trying to address. We know that the men and women in the same store doing the same job are paid the same. The question is why shop floor workers, who are mostly women, get paid less than depot workers who are mostly male?

Equal value means that, while the roles being compared may not be the same, the work carried out is equal in terms of the demands it places on the people doing the job.

Equal value claims seek to address this imbalance, and this is key to challenging gender segregation in the workplace.

Already, in many of our supermarket claims, our clients have cleared the first hurdle – proving store workers can compare themselves to workers in the distribution centres.

Now it’s time to get to what is at the heart of these claims - are the roles of equal value?

To decide this, independent experts will draw up factors to compare and assess the demands of store and depot jobs. These factors will then be scored, and a judge will then decide if they agree with the findings to determine whether the roles are of equal value.

Find out more about our Equal Pay Now claim

What’s important is that every aspect of the roles are looked at. One job might score highly for dealing with members of the public or money, while another might score higher for physical demands. By looking at the overall score, a fair comparison can be made.

Shop floor workers aren’t claiming that depot workers don’t have a difficult job, they are simply saying that their roles are equally as demanding.

Yes, depot workers have to do a lot of heavy lifting, but staff working on the kiosk are dealing with money, on the shop floor they’re unstacking crates and putting products on shelves, if they work in the petrol station they might need to take personal details which deals with data protection.

These are just a few of the tasks store staff deal with daily, all while helping customers which is something depot workers don’t have to do.

A lot of people have the wrong impression of what it’s like to work in a supermarket, but when you look closely at everything a store worker has to do it’s hard to understand why they are not paid at least the same as depot staff.

Now is the time for the supermarkets to right this wrong, so that in another 75 years’ time women aren’t still saying that they feel that pay benefits in the workplace are unequal.