Is it just me, or does it seem rather apt that in the same week as International Women’s Day (8 March) several equal pay claims were brought by current and former female employees against well-known UK brands?
Earlier this week, law firms representing the claimants announced they would be bringing claims against retailers Morrisons and Next, on the grounds that female store-based staff believe they are paid less than predominantly male warehouse-based employees carrying out comparable roles.
These follow similar claims against organisations including Tesco and Birmingham City Council, with more likely to follow. A poll of www.employeebenefits.co.uk readers last month, for example, found that 76% of respondents thought the case against Tesco would pave the way for further equal pay claims against organisations.
These cases were given credence after the Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed an appeal by retailer Asda in August last year against a previous Employment Tribunal ruling that female employees, who predominantly work in Asda stores, could compare themselves to male staff working in the organisation’s depots for the purpose of arguing that they should receive comparable pay.
Last month, government figures showed that 74% of organisations with more than 250 employees pay their male staff more than their female employees. Although the focus here is on gender pay gaps, which are quite distinct from equal pay discrepancies, it does raise the question of where else female employees may feel they would be justified in raising an equal pay claim against their employer? Which sectors are likely to be the next to see a wave of equal pay claims? After all, where one leads, others are likely to follow, so the more cases that are raised and come to fruition, the more confidence it may imbue in others to follow suit.
Only time will tell.