It has been reported that Tesco is facing the UK’s largest ever equal pay claim with female staff chasing back pay of up to £4 billion.

The latest legal challenge sees women store workers claiming parity with men who work in the company’s warehouses. The former earn around £8 an hour while the latter can earn up to £11 an hour. Although these are different roles, the Equality Act 2010 requires that men and women are paid the same not just where their jobs are identical but also where they perform work of “equal value”.

Birmingham City Council previously lost its fight against claims from women who worked for it as cooks, cleaners and carers who sought the same pay as mainly male bin collectors and road workers. It now faces a bill of over £1 billion.

Asda and Sainsburys are facing similar equal pay claims from women who argue their roles require comparable skills, have similar levels of responsibility and are of equal value to the employer as those different roles done mainly by men.

While the public sector has been dealing with this type of legal action for many years, it is only recently that private sector employers have been the recipients of such claims.

It is now exceedingly rare to find an employer who will openly pay men and women differently for doing the same job. It is likely to be more common to find that women in roles which are predominantly carried out by females are being paid less than men in roles predominantly carried out by males. This type of pay discrepancy is likely to have arisen for historical reasons and, although not intentional, is still unlawful. Claims for back pay can be brought in the employment tribunal under the Equality Act 2010.

Speak to one of our employment law experts today if you have questions about equal pay claim.

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