The Employment Appeal Tribunal has dismissed an appeal by Asda in an ongoing equal pay case.
In October 2016, a Manchester Employment Tribunal ruled that female employees, who largely work in Asda stores, could compare themselves to male employees that work in Asda’s depots.
The comparison forms part of an equal pay claim brought by more than 7,000 former and current Asda employees, the majority of which are women. The claimants allege that the value of the work they do is equal to that of employees working in Asda’s distribution centres, who are largely male, and their pay should therefore be comparable.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the Employment Tribunal judge did not err or misapply the law, thereby dismissing Asda’s appeal and upholding the judge’s decision that the claimants can compare themselves to their chosen comparators for the purpose of their claim.
Chris Benson, head of the employment and discrimination department at law firm Leigh Day, said: “Asda continues to appeal every point available to [it], rather than focusing on paying men in the distribution centres and women in the stores equally, but judges at every level have been adamant that the claims can continue. After yet another defeat, we hope that Asda takes this opportunity to reflect on the merits of the claims, and concentrates on why [it] pays men more than women for jobs of equal value, rather than trying to stop the claims going ahead at all.”
An Asda spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with this appeal ruling which relates to a technical preliminary issue of whether jobs in different parts of the business can be compared. The Employment Appeal Tribunal has given us permission to appeal against this judgment, to the Court of Appeal. We continue to strongly dispute the claims being made against us.
“The employment tribunal has yet to consider whether the jobs are of equal value in terms of their demands and if some jobs are, only then will the tribunal move on to consider the reasons for the differentials, including the existence of different market rates in different industry sectors. At Asda, hourly-paid colleagues doing the same job in the same location are paid the same. Men and women doing the same job in our retail stores are paid the same. Men and women doing the same job in our distribution centres are paid the same. Pay rates in stores differ from pay rates in distribution centres for legitimate reasons, including the different market rates for different jobs in different sectors.”
Tim Roache, general secretary at trade union GMB, added: “GMB looks forward to Asda management sitting down and finding a sensible negotiated solution to recognising that our female members in stores should be paid and valued as equal to the men. Instead of wasting money on litigation, we ask Asda to be a market leader in solving this wide-ranging industry problem.”