Today, Tesco, the supermarket giant, is facing the music because of claims that it has been underpaying its female employees, as the first 1,000 workers were able to successfully initiate a legal challenge against the retailer.
Leigh Day, a law firm, helped 100 women file a claim against the supermarket giant last February, and has since followed up with another 900 claims at the employment tribunal after conducting some research which discovered that the predominantly-male distribution centres were paid higher as compared to the average for store employees.
Leigh Day says that this equates to a distribution worker earning more than £5,000 per year more than the female-based store employees. With estimated pay shortfalls that reach approximately £20,000, the final bill for Tesco could likely be as high as £4 billion.
More workers are anticipated to join the call of the law firm, which is being accommodated by a specialist unit. Leigh Day is also the law firm that handles similar challenges against fellow supermarkets Asda and Sainsbury’s.
One of the lawyers who was handling the said case, Paula Lee, stated: “The concept of ‘women’s work’ is an outdated approach to employment which needs to be corrected.”
She added: “We’ve had an incredible response to the announcement of this legal action. Many proud members of staff have realised that this claim is not anti-Tesco, but it is to ensure that the work done in stores and distribution centres is recognised as being of equal value. not the same work, but work of equal value. And that they should be paid the same as their colleagues in distribution. The concept of ‘women’s work’ is an outdated approach to employment from the middle of the last century which needs to be corrected.”
She continued: “Both store staff and distribution staff play an essential role in making billions of pounds for Tesco executives and shareholders, they should both be paid equally for what they contribute to the business.”
A spokesperson from Tesco stated: “We cannot comment on an ongoing legal matter, but we will be defending this claim about equal pay. Tesco has always been a place for people to get on in their careers, regardless of their gender, background or education, and we work hard to make sure all our colleagues are paid fairly and equally for the jobs they do.”