Supermarket retail organisation Tesco is to face legal action over equal pay, as approximately 1,000 current and former female store-based employees claim they are paid less than male staff working at the retailer’s distribution centres.
The equal pay claims regard the disparity in earnings between female store-based employees, who earn £8 an hour on average, compared to the largely male workforce based at Tesco’s distribution centres, who can earn in excess of £11 an hour on average. This could see full-time male distribution centre staff earn £100 a week, or £5,000 a year, more than their female counterparts working in Tesco stores.
The claimants, who are being represented by law firm Leigh Day, have started legal proceedings to take their equal pay claims to the Employment Tribunal (ET). According to Leigh Day, more than 200,000 Tesco employees could be eligible to make a claim, with estimated pay shortfalls of £20,000 each.
The legal action against Tesco follows on from an equal pay case made against fellow supermarket organisation Asda, with the ET confirming in June 2016 that lower-paid female employees at Asda could compare their pay to higher-paid male employees working in the organisation’s distribution centres. Leigh Day is currently representing more than 20,000 shop-floor employees at Sainsbury’s and Asda regarding similar equal pay claims.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment on a claim that we have not received. Tesco has always been a place for people to get on in their career, regardless of their gender, background or education, and we work hard to make sure all our [employees] are paid fairly and equally for the jobs they do.”
Paula Lee, employment team lawyer at Leigh Day, who is representing the female Tesco employees, added: “We believe an inherent bias has allowed store [employees] to be underpaid for many years.
“In terms of equal worth to the [organisation], there really should be no argument that [employees] in stores, compared to those working in distribution centres, contribute at least equal value to the vast profits made by Tesco which last year had group sales of £49.9 billion.”