Equal Pay – Made in Dagenham?

Some of you may have seen the film or the musical of “Made in Dagenham” – the story of the campaign which started at Ford's of Dagenham to bring in Equal Pay Legislation in the UK. I remember it specifically because it was enacted on my 13th birthday! However, we now have an update to the story.

It is well understood that men and women should be paid the same rate of pay for doing the same job, but the recent case brought by female retail workers against Asda looked at a comparison with male employees working in their distribution centres. This looked at jobs of equal value, not just similar jobs – which takes the principle further. The case has moved through the courts and recently the Supreme Court has handed down its decision on the matter.

The Supreme Court judges ruled that Asda retail workers can be compared to distribution workers in terms of pay. This is a landmark case that could pave the way for more employees to bring equal pay claims against the supermarket – and other employers may be similarly affected as there are similar cases pending against Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and Morrisons.

The Judges unanimously upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision that the supermarket’s retail workers, who are predominantly women, are on ‘common terms’ with the predominantly male distribution workers. However, it is important to remember that the ruling does not mean that the workers’ claim has succeeded, only that they can now proceed in an Employment Tribunal for them to be assessed against the comparator jobs. This means that there is still a way to go for the employees before any decisions are made as to actual comparison cases. So watch this space!
Posted on 01 Apr 2021
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