Tesco faces an equal pay claim over pay gaps between its mainly female shop floor staff and its mainly male warehouse and distribution staff. Law firm Leigh Day has submitted claims through Acas on behalf of 100 shop workers, This is likely to be followed by a submission to an employment tribunal. Similar cases are currently in the employment tribunal process against Asda and Sainsbury′s.
In the Asda case the latest ruling from the employment tribunal was that shop workers have the right to compare their jobs to workers in distribution centres. The legal case has argued that the jobs contain a lot of similar tasks, with shop workers also doing a large amount of lifting and carrying. Shop workers actually carry out a wider range of tasks such as dealing with customers and handling money.
Jobs seen as ″women′s work″ have historically been underpaid, with men in these roles also tending to be underpaid. Cases involving council-employed cleaners and school lunchtime supervisors who were paid less than refuse workers or street cleaners were settled by several councils. Employers across all industries are watching these cases, fearful that a precedent is being set for cases elsewhere.
The Financial Times carried an article on Thursday 8 February discussing how companies might respond. Tesco’s best option, the FT commented dryly, might be to outsource both operations, so that a pay gap becomes just a gap between different firms.