Thousands of Tesco staff join new equal pay claim

Business Visual/REX/Shutterstock

More than 8,000 workers have signed up to a new equal pay claim being brought against Tesco, which has been formed in addition to the legal challenge already taking place.

According to law firm Harcus Sinclair UK and campaign group Pay Justice, the retailer breached its duty under section 66 of the Equality Act 2010 by paying staff in its distribution centres more than those on the shop floor, despite the roles being of “comparable value”.

They stated that shop floor staff – the majority of whom are female – are paid up to £3 less per hour than its predominantly-male warehouse and distribution centre workforce.

They have formed a Tesco Action Group, which is made up of around 8,000 current and former Tesco staff, to take the claim forward.

The claim was formed in addition to a separate legal challenge by Leigh Day, which is representing around 1,000 former and current Tesco staff in a similar equal pay dispute.

“The law says work can be different but still equal because of the demands in terms of effort, skill and decision-making that it makes on the worker,” said Emily Fernando, solicitor at Harcus Sinclair.

“In our view the work of a female cashier, who also moves cages of produce and stacks shelves, is equal to that of a male worker in a distribution centre.

“As a claimant bringing an equal pay claim, you may be challenging a status quo that has existed for a long time; but you are asking no more than that your employer complies with the law. That is what our clients are seeking in the Tesco case.”

The law firm estimated that the average claim for back pay will be around £5,000, depending on hours worked, how long the employee worked at Tesco and the pay rate for the distribution role it is most appropriate to compare their job to.

Pay Justice is also involved in equal pay disputes at several major retailers including Next, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. It estimates that 584,000 current staff and even more former employees of the four main supermarkets could be entitled to £10bn in back pay.

“As the country’s biggest supermarket, one would have hoped Tesco would lead by example in practising what it preaches on the importance of equality in the workplace. Sadly, that is not the case,” said Alexia Hendrickson of Pay Justice.

“Indeed, the UK’s top four supermarkets are all culpable. We hope to hold them to account and bring justice to all the workers who we believe have been underpaid.”

Current Tesco employees or those who have worked for the retailer in the last six years (five in Scotland) are eligible to join the claim. They must also have been paid an hourly rate.

A Tesco spokesperson said it has received only two claims so far and would be strongly defending them.

“Tesco works hard to make sure all our colleagues are paid fairly and equally for the jobs they do and are recognised for the great job they do every day serving our shoppers. There are only a very small number of claims being made, and there are strong factual and legal arguments to defend against those claims,” said the spokesperson.

8 Responses to Thousands of Tesco staff join new equal pay claim

  1. Jamin 2 Oct 2018 at 1:39 pm #

    This is actually stupid. The roles are not similar. And this isn’t an argument over a sexist issue even though it has been framed as one. All staff in a shop get paid the same, no matter the gender, same as all staff who work in distribution centers get paid the same. The argument here is all workers in company should get the same pay no matter where they work or what role. Which is also something I do not agree with. If you go out and get a licence to to use a fork lift why shouldn’t you get paid more? You are in a role that requires you to be more careful as your are responsible for heavy machinery. Have you heard of a case of corporate manslaughter involving a till? Didn’t think so

    • Judge Judy 2 Oct 2018 at 3:37 pm #

      Do you think it is ok for the staff in the warehouses who just fill cages – no forklifts – get paid more than the people in store who actually run and are in charge of a shop for 9 hours a day?? Dealing with shoplifters, robberies, drunk and drugged-up people?

    • Jenine 15 Oct 2018 at 11:37 am #

      I had to pull heavy cages and sort out fridges and freezers (walk in types) as part of my job cooking chickens.

      I was responsible for the health and safety of food hygiene and cooking, my h&s responsibilities meant that I had to be skilled in the cooking and monitoring of food and the cleanliness and hygiene of the dept. I too could be held responsible in a court of law should something go wrong on my department.

      As could a cashier who sold a minor something they shouldn’t have (and we all know that some 15year olds look 25). Does someone in the warehouse suffer the same customer abuse? Are they at risk of being held at knife or gunpoint?

      I actually do not think this is a sex discrimination case as the shop floor has a 50/50 workforce from what I can see…but please do not quote that someone working in the warehouses are working harder to are more skilled or more stressed than those in store. The Company are making more and more cuts which are putting the shop workers under extreme stresses.

    • bart 18 Nov 2018 at 2:16 pm #

      Tell me where the difference is…

      Warehouse worker takes product from shelf puts it onto a cage and it gets loaded onto a lorry for deliver to store….

      Store worker takes delivery unloads cage from lorry takes products from cage and puts them on shelf for shoppers to purchase..

      Seems pretty identical to me.

    • Phill. 11 Dec 2018 at 11:14 am #

      So you think taking things from a shelf putting them on a cage and then loading the lorry is completely different from u loading a lorry taking things from a cage and putting them on a shelf.

      Get a grip.

  2. Stuart 10 Oct 2018 at 12:19 pm #

    I think Jamin you are missing the point. Not all people in the warehouse will be using forklifts. At the end of the day, they are stacking selves (in a warehouse or a shop). The legal definition is “comparable” so demands in terms of effort, skill and decision-making (as per the article). Workers in the shop will have additional responsibilities (e.g. assisting customers) so overall the role is similar. You need to grasp that fact before decreeing that “this is stupid”. It just differs from your opinion.

  3. Phil 15 Oct 2018 at 5:31 pm #

    Warehouse work is distinctly unpleasant and it requires staff to operate within very unsociable hours of work and with mandatory overtime enforced within the hourly rates of pay. I have worked in many of these cold, soulless sheds and this environment makes it highly difficult to recruit and retain staff. The pay of these warehouse workers reflects that. I have also worked as a cashier in a large DIY firm, carrying out the same duties as those in any supermarket and with the same flexible shift patterns. Given the choice between the cashier and the warehouse operative roles on equal pay, I would absolutely one hundred percent choose the cashier role. It is easier, more sociable and often a lot more engaging to work as a cashier/shop floor assistant. Having worked in both roles for numerous years each, I would challenge the shop workers to go and work in the warehouses! I reckon they wouldn’t last four weeks! It’s brutal work at times and I we would happily welcome the shop workers to join us as we often cannot recruit enough people!

  4. Jen 10 Dec 2018 at 12:08 pm #

    Not all shop floor workers just work on the checkout. I work in produce and I am on the shop floor and in the warehouse. I lug heavy boxes, push fully loaded cages, crates and trollies, shift heavy crates and boxes for stock rotation, spend time in cold chillers and deal with customers as well as spend time on the checkout.

Leave a Reply