Asda loses appeal in initial stage of equal pay case

Posted 31/01/2019 : By: Sophie Clarke & Jessica Piper

In a judgment handed down by the Court of Appeal this morning, it was ruled that supermarket staff (mostly women) and warehouse staff (mostly men) working at supermarket giant Asda can compare themselves against each other for equal pay purposes.

Under current UK employment law, Claimants and their comparators must be working at the same establishment or establishments at which “common terms are observed” in order to make equal pay comparisons. In this case, the majority of staff in customer-facing roles are women and those in warehouse roles men.

The Court of Appeal held that despite working at different establishments, the members of staff observed “common terms” so that their equal pay claims can proceed.

The decision has an impact on ongoing litigation involving over 30,000 shop floor staff from the big four supermarkets in equal pay cases. The litigation process will now move forward to assess, on the basis of objective criteria, whether the roles are of equal value. This is also an important decision for employers generally as it is likely to make it difficult to argue that members of staff working at different sites are unable to make equal pay comparisons. 

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