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£4bn equal pay claim against Tesco

After the law firm Leigh Day announced legal proceedings, Tesco the supermarket giant faces what may be the largest equal pay challenge in UK history. If this claim is successful, it may cost Tesco in the region of £4bn in compensation for workers.

The employment tribunal found out that lower paid female workers at both Tesco and Asda were comparing themselves to higher paid male colleagues working in distribution centres. Another company where this was happening was Sainsbury’s. Lawyers were approached by over 1,000 employees and ex-employees from these companies in June 2016.

The claim against Tesco focuses on staff working in predominantly male distribution centres. They are being paid far more than Tesco stores which are mostly staffed by women.

Employees working in distribution centres earn more than £11 per hour, while staff who work in stores earn £8 per hour.

This discrepancy means that distribution workers will earn more than £5,000 extra per year than store staff who work the same number of hours per week.

Numbers from Leigh Day suggest that the underpaid workers could amount to over 200,000 staff members and ex-staff members of Tesco, with some pay shortfalls amounting to £20,000 per person. The final bill for Tesco could well be above £4bn.

Paula Lee, on behalf of Leigh Day said that they believe there has been an inherent bias which has meant that store workers have been underpaid for many years.

When considering equal worth to the company, it is apparent that there is no argument that compared to distribution workers, store workers contribute at least in equal value to the immense profits made by Tesco. Figures from last year show that the company had group sales of £49.9bn.

Ms Lee went on to say that the huge amount of money being paid to company management teams did not sit well with those who worked in the store. They simply wanted to be paid the same rate as male colleagues in the business.

Considering that we have just marked the 100th anniversary since women began to get the vote, it is now time for companies to take a long, hard look at themselves. They need to recognise the inequality which is still firmly embedded in their organisations.

Tesco commented that all their staff were being paid fairly, regardless of their gender or backgrounds, and stated that they were not able to comment on claims which they have not received.

A spokesperson for Tesco stated that the company had always been a place where people could further their careers, regardless of race, gender, or background. Tesco says that it ensures all their staff are paid equally for the jobs they carry out.

To date, none of the major UK supermarkets have reported their gender pay gap figures. This must be provided before April 4th, 2018.


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