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equal pay at ASDA Stores - comparing apples to oranges?

20 October 2016

In one of the first group equal pay claims in the private sector, the Employment Tribunal has determined that over 7,000 ASDA store workers (predominantly female) are able to compare themselves to distribution workers (predominantly male) even though they are based at different sites and have their pay determined separately.

At this stage, the Tribunal only considered the issue of whether the store workers had a comparator. There are therefore still many issues to determine, including whether their work is of equal value and whether there is a non-discriminatory explanation for the difference in pay (e.g. unsocial hours).

It is certainly clear that the Tribunal will take a very broad view on who can be used as a comparator. Employers should therefore be mindful of all categories of worker when reviewing their workforce pay arrangements. In addition, the obligation to report on the gender pay gap is expected to be coming into force from April 2017. A gender pay gap will not necessarily mean that there is discrimination in pay. However, this may help businesses to identify areas where there is a risk of equal pay claims and address them at an early stage.

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