Thousands of Asda supermarket workers have won a major victory at the Supreme Court in their battle for equal pay. The court upheld an earlier court ruling that lower-paid shop staff, who are mostly women, can compare themselves with higher paid warehouse workers, who are mostly men.
The judge stressed the ruling did not mean the 44,000 claimants had won the right to equal pay, but as the ruling states that the two different types of worker are comparable, the supermarket workers will continue their fight for equal pay.
The case was initially launched by a number of Asda retail employees who argued that them being paid less than predominantly male colleagues working in the distribution centre amounted to unequal pay. Asda applied to have the claim dismissed on the basis that it didn’t meet this common terms test, however the initial Employment Tribunal ruled in favour of the retail workers. This was upheld by the Court of Appeal, and now the Supreme Court.
The ruling means that retail workers would be on substantially similar terms if they were hypothetically doing the same job but based out of the distribution workers’ site, and vice-versa.
An Asda spokesman said there was a long way to go before the issues were finally settled: “This ruling relates to one stage of a complex case that is likely to take several years to reach a conclusion. We are defending the claims because the pay in our stores and distribution centres is the same for colleagues doing the same jobs regardless of their gender. Retail and distribution are very different sectors with their own distinct skill sets and pay rates.”