By Sacha Sokhi, an employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell:
“The Supreme Court has upheld previous decisions that lower paid shop staff (mostly women) can compare themselves with higher paid warehouse workers (mostly men). The Supreme Court has confirmed that the relevant question is whether the terms and conditions of employment of the comparators are “broadly the same”.
"Importantly, the terms need not be identical. Whilst this is a welcomed decision for the 44,000 Asda claimants, it is yet to be determined whether the work performed was of equal value and this will likely lead to further lengthy litigation. However, this is an important step in the right direction for those seeking equal pay for equal work and will no doubt lead to many employees and workers challenging their right to equality in the workplace. This is not just limited to the retail sector but will also impact on such diverse areas as financial services, medical and healthcare and professional services.”
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More than 44,000 Asda workers have won the latest leg of their equal pay claim with bosses through a Supreme Court ruling, paving the way for a legal battle that could last years. The UK's highest court backed a Court of Appeal judgment that store staff are entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff for equal pay purposes. The store workers, mostly women and members of the GMB union, have brought equal pay claims on the grounds that those in the supermarket chain's warehouses, mostly men, unfairly get more money.