Equal pay claims amount to millions for supermarkets

Written By: James Douglas
Published: March 18, 2018 Last modified: March 17, 2018

Supermarket chain Morrisons is facing an equal pay claim expected to be worth as much as £100 million in compensation following similar cases being brought against major retailers across the UK.

The cases against Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and now Morrisons are that mainly male warehouse workers take home a higher wage than that of mainly female shop-floor workers. Under equal pay laws, this would make the employer liable to provide the same wage and other benefits (such as holiday pay) to shop-floor workers as they do warehouse workers.

In the Asda case, this argument has been accepted, setting an optimistic precedent for the potential success of claims against other retailers.

At Morrisons, around 70 per cent of shop floor workers are women, and they are paid almost £2 less than distribution centre staff, who are mostly men. The law firm bringing the case – Roscoe Reid – believes that up to 25,000 staff may have a claim.

And the High Street clothing chain Next could be facing a claim for up to £30 million in back pay from thousands of mainly female shop-floor staff, who claim they are paid less than their mostly male warehouse colleagues.

More than 300 workers have initially signed up to participate in a claim that has been filed at the conciliation service Acas.

It has been estimated that the average salary loss for the group amounts to around £6,000. However, it is anticipated that between 3,000 and 5,000 workers will ultimately register to the group legal action, which could result in a claim totalling £30 million.

Lawyers representing Next claimants believe the predominantly female store staff receive on average 24 per cent less than their colleagues at the warehouses.