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ASDA equal pay hearing begins into comparability of roles

Lawyers begin hearings at employment tribunal into the largest private sector equal pay claim ever which could be worth over £100m

Posted on 20 June 2016

A 7-day hearing begins on Monday 20th June 2016 in the largest private sector equal pay claim ever. The claim against ASDA could be worth over one hundred million pounds.

The claim is being brought by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of over 7,000 former and current employees of the supermarket chain who are asking the supermarket for back pay going back to 2002.

Employment Judge Ryan sitting at the Manchester Employment Tribunal will be asked to determine whether women in ASDA stores can compare themselves to men in the ASDA distribution centres.

Leigh Day are currently representing thousands of former and current employees of the supermarket chain, mostly female, who feel they have been paid less than others within the organisation despite carrying out roles of equal value.

Michael Newman, a partner in the employment team at Leigh Day, said:

“In the stores women are more routinely employed as check-out staff and shelf-stackers. Those employed in the warehouses are pretty much all men. As a whole, the group that is mostly men gets paid more. We say this cannot be lawful.

"We believe that the jobs are comparable. To take one example: warehouse staff are responsible for picking items off shelves, putting them on pallets and loading them into lorries. In the stores, they do the reverse: taking the pallets off the lorries, unstacking them and putting the items on the shelves. While the jobs are not identical, we say they are of equal value.

"Although there have been huge advancements in equal pay within the public sector, there is still a long way to go in the private sector.” The latest round of equal pay cases follows a Supreme Court ruling back in October 2012, in which Leigh Day won the right for equal pay claims to be brought in the High Court up to six years after a worker leaves the employment where pay discrimination may have occurred.

The judgment effectively extended the time limit for equal pay claims from six months to six years, the biggest change to Equal Pay legislation since it was introduced in 1970, with huge implications for hundreds of thousands of workers.