On Friday 24th January at the Manchester Employment Tribunal, the first hearing for an equal pay claim against the Co-op Group took place. Around 100 shop workers, who are mostly women, argue that they are being underpaid compared with warehouse workers, most of whom are men, causing them to launch an equal pay claim against the retailer.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, similar actions were launched last year against other retailers too. Ongoing equal pay claims are taking place for over 40,000 workers at Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.
In the Co-op stores, women are usually employed to work on the shop floor in a ‘front-of-house’ role whereas, employees working in the warehouses are more often than not men. Despite equal pay laws being in place for almost 50 years, the employees in the warehouse get paid more and this is causing the current equal pay claim.
Even though the jobs have different titles, the shop workers believe that they have comparable demands and similar responsibilities. Both job roles are necessary to the success of the Co-op and this case is not about whether the jobs are identical, it is saying they are of equal value.
It is said that the difference in hourly pay for a shop floor worker and a distribution centre worker at the Co-op Group can range from £1.50 to £3.00. The law firm representing the workers believe that the average full-time employee could be entitled to £10,000 in back pay up to six years.
Currently, the hearing for the equal pay claim against the Co-op continues and at this time it is too early to predict a certain outcome.
What can employers learn from this case?
It is becoming more common for pay to cause issues in the workplace and as far as pay between genders is concerned, it isn’t an issue that is going to disappear. Equal pay claims can fall into two categories, a straightforward sex discrimination claim or a claim under The Equality Act 2010. It isn’t uncommon for claimants to actually pursue dual claims, to cover all bases.
Once an employee has made a claim against your company regarding equal pay, it is then down to you to establish that the difference in pay is not related to that person’s sex. This process can be lengthy and complex. If an employee is successful with their claim for equal pay, compensation is in the form of backdated pay and interest for up to six years from the date the claim was lodged.
It goes without saying that this can be incredibly stressful for both employees and employers and is a process that could be avoided with equal pay being provided from the offset. Bringing cases like the one above to employees attention can open their eyes to what can happen when issues regarding equal pay is brought to someone attention. Ultimately, employers should bear situations like this in mind when considering employees pay to help them avoid any potential backlash in the future.
Nationwide Employment Lawyers
If there does come a time that you require assistance regarding an equal pay claim please don’t hesitate to contact Nationwide Employment Lawyers. We have a team of experienced and talented in-house advocates who have practised at the highest levels, all of whom can assist you to handle this claim correctly.
Their team are committed to their clients and this dedication can be summarised by their core values: “excellence in our work”, “a commitment to your case to achieve the best possible result” and “providing the best value to our clients”. We have employment law specialists who are available to work nationwide, and they are only a phone call away and will gladly arrange to meet at serviced offices around the country. So, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today.