Tesco brand embroiled in equal pay challenge

Tesco is facing a legal challenge over equal pay and could have to fork out up to £4bn in back pay, an outcome that would drag the supermarket brand into the gender inequality row.

Tesco: the supermarket is facing legal challenge over pay disparity
Tesco: the supermarket is facing legal challenge over pay disparity

Law firm Leigh Day has launched what is potentially the biggest ever equal pay challenge in the UK, and is targeting the disparities between Tesco store worker and depot worker pay.

The lawyers are arguing that workers in the male-dominated distribution centres can earn in excess of £11 an hour, while workers in female-dominated stores earn around £8 an hour. The firm says that the "disparity could see a full time distribution worker on the same hours earning over £100 a week, or £5,000 a year more than female based store staff".

Leigh Day — which has begun submitting claims to Acas, marking the first stage of the employment tribunal process — said that it has been approached by more than 1,000 employees and ex-employees of the supermarket.

The case is built on the findings of a 2016 employment tribunal, which in June 2016 found that lower-paid female workers at Asda could compare themselves to higher-paid male workers at the supermarket’s distribution centres.

Paula Lee, a lawyer from Leigh Day’s employment team, said: "We believe an inherent bias has allowed store workers to be underpaid for many years.

"In terms of equal worth to the company there really should be no argument that workers in stores, compared to those working in distribution centres, contribute at least equal value to the vast profits made by Tesco which last year had group sales of £49.9bn."

Nearly 20,000 employees are involved in the case against Asda, while a further 1,000 are involved in an action against Sainsbury’s.