As Asda faces mass legal action over equal pay, the private sector needs to reassess its view of equal pay claims, a top lawyer claims. More than 1,000 employment tribunal claims have already been lodged since it was revealed that female workers at the UK’s second largest retailer are not paid the same as male workers. Lauren Loughheed, the solicitor with Leigh Day who is leading the case, told the BBC that the pay difference between shop and warehouse workers could be as much as £4 an hour.
Nick Robertson, partner at employment law specialists Mayer Brown told HR magazine that the private sector is ‘hoping the problem will go away’.
“This is a remuneration issue that is getting bigger day by day. Equal pay has long been a big issue in the public sector, and it is unlikely the private sector can escape the same scrutiny for much longer,” he said.
He said that many bosses argue that the equal pay gap is not as bad as statistics claim but, at the same time, refuse to do an equal pay analysis.
“If you don’t know whether two jobs are of equal value or not how do you justify your pay rates or work out how you would assemble a defence, to show that the pay differential was justified? If you leave it until the claim comes in, then you will be scrambling to work out whether your position is defensible, which goes to the heart of handling such claims.”