Morrisons is facing a potential £100m equal pay compensation claim, after being accused of paying their female workers less than males for comparable jobs.
The claimants say that there are about 70 percent of shop-floor workers who are women, and yet, they are paid almost £2 less than men working in the distribution centre, per hour. The argument is that the work is of equal value, and therefore should be paid at the same rate. Hundreds of former and current Morrisons employees signed to the legal action. They are represented by Roscoe Reid law firm, who are also working with workers’ rights group Pay Justice.
If they are successful, each employee could be due thousands of pounds each, as the unequal pay gap claims started several years ago. Roscoe Reid has estimated that up to 25,000 Morrisons workers, even those who left within the last six years, could be eligible. The news follows from another law firm, Leigh Day, launched a £4bn equal pay claim against Tesco. Asda and Sainsbury’s are facing similar challenges.
Roscoe Reid said the legal proceedings could start in the next few months, first by lodging claims with the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service, and if successful, to an employment tribunal. The employment tribunal shall appoint an independent expert who will assess whether the work is of equal value. Factors such as handling money, customer-facing duties, and physical activity will be taken into consideration.
The law on equal pay for men and women was established in the Equal Pay Act 1970 and states that men and women should be paid the same for the same job, and also be paid the same for jobs of equal value. It also applies to other aspects such as bonus payments, holidays, and sick leave.
One of Morrisons’ spokesmen said:
“We haven’t received a legal claim on this matter. Our aim is to pay our colleagues fairly and equally for the job that they do, irrespective of their gender.”
On the other hand, a lawyer at Roscoe Reid said:
“We fully expect these claims to succeed and we also expect many more current and former store workers to join our current group of claimants.”
Morrisons is the fourth biggest supermarket retailer in the UK, with 498 stores and 110,000 employees.