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Hewett's Legal Corner - EBulletin #46

Asda workers win major step in equal pay claim battle

Asda has lost an Employment Tribunal ruling in a case involving thousands of workers in supermarkets who sought to compare themselves with higher-paid men in distribution centres.

In what is the biggest-ever equal pay case in the private sector, the Claimants argued that work done in retail stores has been perceived as “women’s work” and was paid less than the work in distribution depots, traditionally seen as “men’s work”.

The decision, which followed a hearing in Manchester in June, means that Asda will be forced to adjust the pay of many of its 130,000 shop floor staff, and make back payments to the 7,000 store workers going back to 2002, at an estimated cost of up to £100 million.

However, this preliminary hearing has only ruled on whether jobs in a depot are comparable to those in its stores. It is now for another tribunal to consider whether the jobs are of equal value.

Nevertheless, this judgment will have far-reaching implications on numerous equal pay claims, including a similar equal pay claim for 400 Sainsbury’s workers.

We are offering businesses the opportunity to have an equal pay audit. It is the most effective way of checking that your organisation is complying with its equal pay obligations.

For more information about equal pay audits or if you have any queries regarding the above, you should contact Sally Morris at or on 01905 610410.

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