Supermarket retailer Morrisons is due to face equal pay claims from thousands of current and former shop staff, potentially costing the organisation up to £100 million in settlements.
Law firm Roscoe Reid, which is representing the claimants alongside workers’ rights organisation Pay Justice, stated that it has received more than 5,000 expressions of interest from full-time, part-time and casual staff who either currently or used to work across Morrisons’ 500 UK stores.
The claims relate to the difference in pay between employees working on the supermarket’s shop floor, who are predominantly female, and staff based at its distribution centres, who are mainly male.
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The law currently states that men and women should be paid equally for completing the same job or for doing jobs of equal value. The claimants argue that the shop work they perform is of the same value as work carried out in distribution centres, and that they should therefore receive the same benefits, such as pay, bonus payments, holidays and sick leave, as their colleagues based in Morrisons’ warehouses.
If Morrisons decides not to settle the claims, the Employment Tribunal (ET) will appoint an expert to assess both the shop floor jobs and warehouse roles. This expert will determine whether, on the whole, the two jobs provide equal value to the employer. Roscoe Reid estimates that the total claim value per person could amount to £15,000.
Morrisons, headquartered in Bradford, West Yorkshire, employs more than 130,000 individuals in the UK.
A spokesperson at Morrisons said: “We are perplexed that this law firm is talking about ‘thousands’ of claimants as they have written to us recently with a significantly smaller list of claimants. We believe we pay our [employees] fairly and equally for the job that they do, irrespective of their gender, and we will be defending this claim.”
Ellie Pinnells, lawyer at Roscoe Reid, added: “There is a clear case that female roles have been underpaid for a long time and employees are very likely to win their equal pay cases. Asda has tried to fight every point, but has had a string of defeats in court. Let’s hope Morrisons takes a different approach and tries to put an end to a decade [of] unfair pay on [its] shop floors.”