The Supreme Court in their judgment this morning have ruled that Asda shop workers, who are predominantly female, can compare themselves to their colleagues who work in Asda distribution centres, who are predominantly male, in their equal pay claim. For equal pay claims, the comparator the claimant relies on must be employed by the same employer either at the same establishment, or at a different establishment with ‘common terms’.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court asked whether, broadly speaking, the terms enjoyed by the distribution employees were substantially the same between the depots and the claimants’ establishments. In doing so, it found there were ‘common terms’ across the two sites, and that the distribution centre workers were valid comparators.
The decision confirms the previous decisions made by the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal, and the Court of Appeal.
Today’s ruling does not mean the workers have won their claims for equal pay; rather, the shop workers are now able to proceed to the next stage of the claim, where they must prove the roles are of equal value.
It is a significant decision, as if successful the claims may cost Asda up to £100 million. Other supermarkets such as Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsburys will also be watching the case with increased interest, as they too are facing similar equal pay claims.
The case is set to continue for some time to come, with Asda signaling their intention to continue defending the claim, and we will keep you updated as this case continues.