Asda has lost its appeal against the earlier decisions of two tribunals regarding equal pay claims.
Asda received over 7,000 claims from retail staff (predominantly female) arguing that they were not receiving equal pay in relation to their hourly rates and contractual bonuses, when compared to the predominantly male staff working at Asda’s distribution depots.
Asda’s position was that the two pay regimes were distinct and therefore could not be compared.
The Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed Asda’s argument and held that although the retail and distribution divisions were run separately (with different terms and conditions), the ultimate control of both was with the Asda Executive Board and therefore there was a ‘single source’ for pay purposes.
The case is significant for future equal pay claims being described by Lord Falconer QC as “by far the most important, complex and financially significant equal pay claim ever pursued in the private sector”.
What Happens Next?
At present, this preliminary issue has been resolved and the retail staff, the claimants, can compare their terms against the distribution workers. However, an Employment Tribunal will now have to determine whether the work performed by the retail staff and the distribution staff is truly of equal value to Asda’s business and, if it is, whether any variation in pay can be justified on objective grounds.
Gareth Edwards is a partner at award-winning law firm VWV. Gareth can be contacted on 0117 314 5220 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.