Tesco staff file 1,000 equal pay claims

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One thousand former and current Tesco employees have lodged claims for equal pay, according to the law firm handling the case.

Leigh Day, which is pursuing a claim that will potentially cost the retailer £4bn in compensation, said it has received “thousands” more enquiries from Tesco employees and ex-employees, and expects the number of claims to continue to rise.

The case, which was announced in February, focuses on employees working in male-dominated distribution centres being paid considerably more than Tesco stores, which have a predominantly female workforce.

In a case involving rival Asda in June 2016, the employment tribunal found that lower-paid female workers could compare themselves to higher paid men who work in distribution centres.

Leigh Day said distribution centre staff can sometimes earn £11 an hour, while employees in stores earn £8 on average.

It estimated that a quarter of a million Tesco staff could be eligible to join the claim, with estimated pay shortfalls potentially reaching £20,000.

Lawyer Paula Lee described current and former employees’ response to the claim as “incredible”.

“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,” she explained.

She said both store and warehouse staff “play an essential role in making billions of pounds for Tesco executives and shareholders” and should therefore receive the same rate of pay.

A Tesco spokesperson said they could not comment on an ongoing legal matter, but would be defending the claim.

“Tesco has always been a place for people to get on in their career, 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,” they said.

A spokesperson for Leigh Day said it has hearings set in November 2018 and May 2019. The law firm is also representing more than 20,000 shop-floor workers in similar equal pay claims against Sainsbury’s and Asda.

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