The law firm bringing an equal pay claim on behalf of Tesco staff is seeking clarification on equal pay legislation from the EU.
Leigh Day, which is representing thousands of predominantly-female shop floor workers who believe they should be paid at the same rate as predominantly-male warehouse staff, has applied to the European Court of Justice for clarity on workers’ rights under EU law.
Tesco has argued that UK law is unclear about whether staff in one area of a business, such as a store, can compare their salaries to those in another part, such as a warehouse, because they are independent of each other.
Tesco equal pay claim
The law firm hopes the court will rule that the rate of pay of the women in this case can be related to that of male colleagues employed by the same employer, but who do different kinds of work.
Because the application has been made before the anticipated Brexit date on 31 October, the law firm expects the judgment will be respected by UK courts and employers even if it is made after a no-deal Brexit has occurred.
Kiran Daurka, solicitor in Leigh Day’s employment team, said: “We have made this application on behalf of our clients because employers have repeatedly argued that UK law is not clear.
“We hope that a judgment from Europe will make clear the rights of UK workers to bring equal pay claims. The UK’s equal pay laws are reinforced by EU law and we hope that the EU will give our clients the extra protection they should be entitled to.”
The law firm hopes that any ruling in its favour will provide greater protection for workers across the UK and assist with progressing its similar equal pay cases against the other “big five” supermarkets – Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and the Co-op.
If its equal pay challenge against Tesco – the largest in UK history – is successful, it could cost the retailer as much as £4bn to compensate workers.
Another law firm, Harcus Sinclair, is also bringing a separate and similar equal pay claim against Tesco.
Tesco declined to comment.