A law firm has taken legal action against Tesco on behalf of close to 100 female shop assistants who claim to earn as much as £3 an hour less than male warehouse workers who have similar roles.
This claim could cost Tesco up to £20,000 per worker in pay back over at least 6 years.
The staff who work in the warehouse earn an amount ranging from £8.50 to more than £11 an hour. In comparison, store staff earn about £8 according to this claim.
This means that a full time warehouse worker could earn over £5,000 a year more than store based staff.
This action is being taken by legal firm Leigh Day. A Leigh Day lawyer, Paula Lee, who is representing the Tesco women said ‘we believe an inherent bias has allowed store workers to be underpaid over many years’.
She continued by saying ‘there might be lifting and carrying in the distribution centre but there is also lifting and carrying in the shops as well as dealing with customers and handling money’.
‘It is nuanced and complex but we do need to change how we measure work and value work’.
Lee also pointed out that men working in historically female roles such as catering, cleaning, caring, clerical, and cashiering tend to be underpaid.
‘Tesco have now said they would consider any changes to pay as long as it is in partnership with Usdaw’
Kim Element,a 56 year old shop assistant who has worked at Tesco for 23 years has decided to join this legal action.
She said she was upset to discover that warehouse workers who were mostly male received double pay for Sunday shifts while she and many others were put onto time and a half.
She said ‘if it’s going to be fair, it should be fair across the board’.
‘It makes me feel highly disappointed. If we are doing a job of equal value, we should be paid accordingly’.
Another long standing Tesco worker, Pam Jenkins has also joined the action.
Jenkins, 57, who has worked for Tesco for 26 years has also recently suffered when premium pay rates for Sunday shifts were reduced.
She stated that her job is ‘quite hands-on manual work’ as it involves collecting stock from the warehouse, stocking shelves, and handling customers.
She said Tesco ‘need to get their facts right. They say they want everybody to be equal. It should be equal pay for equal value’. She continued to say ‘I do feel let down’.
Tesco have now said they would consider any changes to pay as long as it is in partnership with Usdaw, the trade union that represents the majority of the shop floor staff.
They said they were yet to receive any details regarding this claim. ‘We are unable to comment on a claim that we have not received. Tesco has always been a place for people to get on with their career, regardless of their gender, background or education, and we work hard to make sure all our colleagues are paid fairly and equally for the jobs they do’.