Retailer Next is to face legal action over equal pay from current and former female store-based employees who claim they are paid less than male staff working in the organisation’s warehouses.
The equal pay claims regard the disparity in earnings between female employees working across Next’s UK stores compared to the largely male workforce employed in its warehouses. According to law firm Pattinson and Brewer, which is representing the claimants, female store staff receive, on average, 24% less than male employees performing comparable jobs.
The group equal pay action, which is currently being submitted to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), will argue that female store staff are entitled to compensation because of unequal pay dating back several years.
Current store staff and employees who have left the organisation within the last six years may be eligible to make a claim. Pattinson and Brewer has stated that if the claim is successful, affected female claimants could receive up to six years’ worth of backpay.
A spokesperson at Next said: “Next has not been notified by Acas on this matter and is, therefore, currently unaware of any claims against it. The difference between working in a warehouse and a store at Next is, however, more significant than for any of the retailers now involved in litigation.
“Next values all its employees, regardless of their gender, role and place of work within the business. Next is also confident that all its employees are paid legally, fairly and appropriately for the jobs they perform.”
Elizabeth George, head of the employment team at Pattinson and Brewer, added: “There really aren’t many simpler legal concepts to grasp than this one; staff doing comparable jobs should be paid the same amount. But when you look across every work sector, you will see work that is traditionally viewed as women’s work being undervalued. The physical and mental demands on the shop floor are no less than those in the warehouses. The only thing of less substance is the minimum wage being given to our clients.”