Feb 7, 2018
Tesco is facing Britain’s largest ever equal pay claim and a possible bill running to £4bn.
Thousands of women who work in Tesco stores could receive back pay totaling £20,000 if the legal challenge demanding parity with men who work in the company’s warehouses is successful.
Lawyers say hourly-paid female store staff earns less than men even though the value of the work is comparable.
Tesco said it worked hard to ensure all staff was paid “fairly and equally”.
Paula Lee, of Leigh Day solicitors, told the BBC it was time for Tesco to tackle the problem of equal pay for work of equal worth.
Her firm has been contacted by more than 1,000 Tesco staff and will this week take the initial legal steps for 100 of them.
The most common rate for women is £8 an hour whereas for men the hourly rate can be as high as £11 an hour, she added.
She said it was a problem that had been “hiding in plain sight” for years.
“We believe an inherent bias has allowed store workers to be underpaid over many years,” she said.
“In terms of equal worth to the company, there really should be no argument that workers in stores, compared to those working in the depots, contribute at least equal value to the vast profits made by Tesco.
“The law has been there since 1984 – you can compare with a different job.
“That’s 34 years to put your house in order; that’s 34 years of having the advantage of paying unequally, 34 years of you making pay decisions and making financial decisions and 34 years hiding what is in open sight.”