A look back through our equal pay features shows a pattern that the majority of claims recently have been from supermarket staff following the Asda v Brierly case regarding predominantly female store roles being equal to predominantly male warehouse roles.
Like nearly all the other big-5 supermarkets, Sainsburys has faced a multi-claimant claim from thousands of its store staff. As with the ASDA case, the Sainsbury’s case has been slowed down at every step in the process by the employer challenging minor technical points. The latest appearance in the Court of Appeal was to argue about whether the claims should be struck out on a technicality as the Claimants who are part of the claim have different job roles.
The CoA held there was no reason the claim should be struck out on this basis as all claims were in relation to equal pay and varied only slightly. The next hurdle will be to agree a suitable warehouse comparator for the store staff to be compared to for the purposes of equal pay. Another instance that will likely be appealed to the CoA/Supreme Court that will result in a delay to the claim being heard.
Across the big-5 supermarkets it is estimated the total value of these store/warehouse equal pay claims is in the region of £8bn – if all eligible store staff bring a claim and win. This goes someway to explain the tactics as a means to defer judgment – and presumably set aside a rainy day fund if the claim is successful – but also to deter some from claiming due to the hassle.