Morrisons workers win key legal battle in equal pay fight: Tribunal rules shop floor and warehouse positions SHOULD be considered similar in case brought by staff for higher wages
- Thousands of Morrisons workers have won a key legal battle in equal pay fight
- Mostly female shop staff said they should be paid the same as male depot staff
- A tribunal ruled shop floor and warehouse roles should be considered as similar
- It comes after a court that ruled the jobs were comparable in case against Asda
Thousands of Morrisons workers have won a key legal battle in their fight for equal pay after a tribunal ruled shop floor and warehouse positions should be considered as similar.
A group of mostly female Morrisons’ retail staff have been fighting for similar wages to those of mostly male workers in distribution centres, claiming they have been ‘unfairly underpaid’ by the supermarket.
And in a key victory for the workers, Judge Davies at the Leeds Employment Tribunal ruled that Morrisons’ shop floor workers can rely on the supermarket’s warehouse staff as comparators in their claims for equal pay.
The ruling adds to a body of case law supporting accusations of pay discrimination against other supermarkets, with shop floor workers typically earning £1 to £2 less than staff in depots.
Mostly female Morrisons’ retail staff have been fighting for similar wages to mostly male workers in distribution centres, claiming they have been ‘unfairly underpaid’ (stock image)
It comes after a Supreme Court ruling against Asda in March, when judges said the two jobs could be considered as comparable.
Morrisons argued the tribunal should find that retail staff cannot be compared to warehouse workers because each of its distribution centres has individual, collectively bargained terms and conditions.
The supermarket said this means the employment terms of distribution centre workers are not common across all sites, so retail workers cannot be compared to them as a group.
They also argued that individual negotiations of terms means distribution and retail workers are not employed by the same source.
But the judge has ruled in favour of the workers in a key victory for the shop floor workers amid their equal pay fight, which sees them claiming up to £100million in missed pay.
Further hearings in the case will look at whether store worker and distribution roles are of equal value, and whether there is a reason, other than sex discrimination, for the two jobs not to be paid equally.
Judge Davies at the Leeds Employment Tribunal ruled that Morrisons’ retail workers can rely on the supermarket’s warehouse staff as comparators in their claims for equal pay (stock image)
Ellie Pinnells, a partner and group litigation specialist at Roscoe Reid, representing the staff, said: ‘We are hugely encouraged by this decision which, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Asda case, gives hope to thousands of mostly female workers who have been unfairly underpaid by their employer.
‘As employment Judge Davies noted, “Responsibility for any inequality, and for putting it right, remains with the board”.
‘I would urge the board of Morrisons, and any party interested in a takeover of Morrisons, to put right a wrong that has persisted since the Equal Pay Act 1974.’
More than 40,000 equal pay claims have been made by employees against supermarkets, with payouts reportedly reaching millions due to unfair treatment of staff.
In March, Asda store workers won a Supreme Court fight with bosses after bringing equal pay claims over complaints that staff in distribution depots unfairly got more money.
More than 40,000 Asda store workers, about two-thirds of whom are women, said staff working in distribution depots, most of whom are men, unfairly get more cash.
Bosses at Leeds-based Asda said store jobs were not comparable to distribution centre jobs, but justices at the Supreme Court in London today ruled against them.
The judges decided that store workers, who had made sex-discrimination claims, were entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff for equal pay purposes.
The Asda store workers said they have historically got less because most store workers are women, and most distribution depot staff are men.
It comes after Asda store workers won a court fight with bosses after bringing equal pay claims over complaints that staff in depots unfairly got more money (stock image)
Supreme Court justices were asked to consider whether Asda store workers are entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff for equal pay purposes.
Judges considered arguments at a hearing in July – and lawyers said that if Asda store workers win all further stages of their fight they could be entitled to several years’ back pay.
They said this will have implications across the retail industry and suggested victory might lead to supermarkets paying out around £8billion.
The litigation began some years ago. In 2016, an employment tribunal decided that store workers were entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff.
That decision was upheld by Court of Appeal judges in 2019. Asda bosses then appealed to the Supreme Court.
Five Supreme Court judges dismissed Asda’s appeal and unanimously ruled in favour of the store workers.
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