Thousands of Women Claim from Asda

Thousands of female employees have made a mass claim against ASDA on the basis that they are paid less than men to do jobs of equal value at the supermarket chain. The employees claim that mostly male staff who work in the warehouses are being overpaid compared with mostly female staff colleagues who work on shop floors.

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In April 2014 Leigh Day Solicitors revealed that they were representing 400 of ASDA’s employees and has apparently been approached by more than 19,000 since then in what may become the largest employment claim the private sector has ever seen.

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If ASDA lose the claim it may be ordered to pay the difference to underpaid staff going back six years which considering it employs 170,000 staff across 370 stores and 23 depots would be huge.

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The firm dealing with the mass claim have confirmed most checkout and shelf stacking staff are female and most staff working in the warehouses are male. However, as a whole, the group that get paid more are men. Investigations have suggested that the shelf stacking and warehouse work is similar and of equal value in that one element takes items off shelves and onto pallets and the other do the opposite.

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If the claimants are successful this may have a knock on effect to other supermarkets who may face similar claims. Most supermarket retailers lease some distribution centres and own others; they tend to use a mix of employed staff and agency staff.

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Tesco has indicated that it leases most of its distribution centres and directly employs most of its staff whereas Morrisons has suggested that it employs nearly three quarters of its staff. Sainsbury’s has only confirmed that it owns most of its distribution facilities. John Lewis directly employ 3,500 staff which is the majority of its distribution network whereas Marks and Spencer only directly employ one fifth of its staff.

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ASDA have been quoted that they do not discriminate and they are proud of their record in this area which they will robustly defend.

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Unequal pay has been huge in the public sector in relation to male binmen or street cleaners who were paid more than female cleaners and dinner ladies following the huge pay out that Birmingham City Council has had to make (in excess of £1 billion) in recent years.

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Equal pay is a huge deal in employment situations and companies need to really consider the pay structures following the new legislation which came into force on 1 October 2014. Employment Tribunals now have the power to order Equal Pay Audits and it is therefore advisable all employers ensure compliance with the law to avoid penalty costs down the line.

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