Equal pay, which for many years has predominantly been seen as an issue for the public sector, is now an increasingly common issue for the private sector, particularly big retailers.

The “Big Four” supermarkets, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, have all either had equal pay claims lodged against them or are facing potential equal pay claims. many of these claims focus on female shop- floor staff comparing their work to male colleagues who work in warehouse/ distribution.

A recent Guardian article reports that the fashion retailer, Next, is also facing a potential equal pay claim in similar circumstances.

The Equality Act 2010 requires men and women to get equal pay for equal work which includes being paid the same for doing jobs of equal value.

The increase in actual claims or those that have been intimidated is reflected in the increase in Equal Pay claims being received by the Employment Tribunals. Recent statistics released by the Ministry of Justice confirm that equal pay claims for the period October to December 2017 were 4.5 times higher than equal pay claims for the same period in 2016 (an increase from 1,168 to 5,365 claims).

I share the view of my colleague, Laura Pointon, as expressed in her blog last month about the Tesco equal pay claim, that particularly in light of the Gender Pay Gap reporting obligations (presently for organisations with 250 or more employees) that the number of Equal Pay claims are only going to increase. 

As employers are required to make their data public (on their own and a government website) that information could then be used by employees as evidence in equal pay claims. Along with increased media coverage of equal pay and the gender pay gap the issue employers could potentially find themselves on the end of an increased number of grievances and legal claims.

If you need any advice or assistance in relation to the issue of equal pay please  contact a member of the Brabners Employment Law Team.