Supermarket giant Tesco is facing the music over claims it has been underpaying its female staff, as the first 1,000 workers successfully launched a legal challenge against the retailer today.
The law firm Leigh Day helped 100 women file a claim against Tesco in February, and has since followed up with a further 900 claims at the employment tribunal after conducting research which found the predominantly-male distribution centres to be paid higher than the average for store staff.
According to Leigh Day, this equates to a distribution worker earning over £5,000 a year more than female-based store staff. With estimated pay shortfalls reaching £20,000, the final bill for Tesco could be as high as £4bn.
More workers are expected to join the law firm’s call, which is being handled by a specialist unit. Leigh Day is also handling similar challenges against fellow supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Asda.
Paula Lee, one of the lawyers handling the case, said: "The concept of ‘women’s work’ is an outdated approach to employment which needs to be corrected."
"We’ve had an incredible response to the announcement of this legal action. Many proud members of staff have realised that this claim is not anti-Tesco, but it is to ensure that the work done in stores and distribution centres is recognised as being of equal value."
"Both store staff and distribution staff play an essential role in making billions of pounds for Tesco executives and shareholders, they should both be paid equally for what they contribute to the business."