Are Tesco set to be sued over gender pay irregularities?

Employment & Skills | Latest News | Reports | Retail

A legal row over equal pay means that thousands of Tesco staff could be in line for a huge payout. Current and former employees alike have united in solidarity with female staff members who are likely owed money, to sue the UK’s biggest supermarket.

The Tesco Action Group argue that Tesco has been paying female staff less than their male counterparts. The backpay they demand for this misdemeanour is £2.5bn, which they argue is owed to 250,000 Tesco workers. If the Tesco Action Group win their cause, the employees affected could get £10,000 each.

They argue Tesco breached its duty under section 66 of the Equality Act 2010 by paying store workers – who are predominantly female – £3 less per hour than those who work in Tesco’s warehouses and distribution centres – predominantly men. The Tesco Action Group claims that in the South East of England, 40,000 workers are due a share of £405m, and about 32,000 workers in Greater London could be owed a share of £343m in backpay.

However, this problem goes beyond Tesco’s management – they are not the only ones accused of not providing equal pay for comparable roles. All four of the UK’s biggest supermarkets are also facing pay disputes. In January, the Court of Appeal ruled that store workers at Asda were right to compare their roles to the roles of employees working in the supermarket’s distribution centres.

Hephzi Pemberton, CEO of Equality Group, provides the following commentary: “It is incredibly frustrating to see that, in 2019, the gender pay gap does not cease to exist. To make matters worse, one of the UK’s leading companies has now been pulled up on unequal gender pay. It is crucial that companies realise the damage this does to our economic and social relations both within Europe and beyond, and that they strive to remedy the current circumstances.

“Unequal pay is inexcusable. As a society, we should be striving to ensure ultimate equality across gender, race and abilities in the workplace by creating and implementing positive policies. Evidently there is still a bias – whether conscious or unconscious – towards paying men a higher wage than women. There are still a number of steps that workplaces need to take to improve their working culture. Increasing the general knowledge and awareness around equal pay will only serve to improve social relations.”

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