Tesco has been ordered by the Employment Appeal Tribunal to disclose information it holds about how much its warehouse staff are paid – evidence which could be key to the equal pay case being brought against the retailer by shop floor workers.
On Wednesday (13 January), the EAT dismissed an appeal the supermarket giant bought against an earlier ruling by an employment tribunal, which said Tesco must hand over the information it holds concerning warehouse workers’ activities, job descriptions and rates of pay.
Law firm Leigh Day, which is representing more than 3,700 shop floor staff, most of whom are women – believes this information is crucial in proving the work shop floor staff do is of equal value to the work of mostly male warehouse workers, who receive higher hourly rates of pay.
The shop floor workers argue both sets of staff should be paid the same.
The first set of information relating to the warehouse workers is due to be handed over within seven days.
Lara Kennedy, a solicitor in the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “Equal pay is a fundamental right and, had Tesco been successful in its appeal, enforcing this right would have been significantly undermined. This would not just have impacted Tesco employees, but would also set a precedent for future equal pay claims.
“In September an employment judge ordered that shop workers be given access to information that is key to their equal pay claims, as is their right, and they are entitled to it without further delay.
“Today’s decision is a clear sign to Tesco that they cannot hide behind opaque pay structures in an effort to defeat equal pay claims.”
A Tesco spokesperson said: “The jobs in our stores and distribution centres are different. These roles require different skills and demands which lead to variations in pay – but this has absolutely nothing to do with gender.
“We reward our colleagues fairly for the jobs they do and work hard to ensure that the pay and benefits we offer are fair, competitive and sustainable.
“These claims are extremely complex and will take many years to reach a conclusion. We continue to strongly defend these claims.”
In October, the equal pay case received a setback after an employment tribunal ruled a job evaluation study being relied upon by lawyers in the case was not valid.
Similar equal pay claims involving shop floor workers in Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and the Co-op are also progressing through the courts.