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Employment Tribunal rules on Tesco equal pay claim

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

The BBC reports that the European Court of Justice has ruled that an EU law could be relied on in making equal pay claims against the employer. Tesco found itself in the spotlight after about 6,000 current or former employees took their grievance to an employment tribunal in Watford.

They argued the company’s shop workers – mostly women – had not received equal pay for equal work compared with its distribution workers – mostly men – since February 2018, in breach of EU and UK laws. The shop staff argued the firm should be seen as a single entity in terms of employment conditions.

Tesco had argued an EU law defining equal pay for equal work, or work of equal value, was not directly applicable in this case. The UK tribunal sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe’s highest, which rejected Tesco’s arguments.

“The principle, laid down by EU law, of equal pay for male and female workers can be relied upon directly, in respect both of ‘equal work’ and of ‘work of equal value’, in proceedings between individuals,” CJEU judges said.

Tesco said the jobs in its stores and distribution centres were different and hence the different pay.

Christine Sepahi worked for Tesco for over 25 years and sits on the Tesco Action Group committee. She said: “We’re pleased that The Court of Justice of the European Court has supported the Supreme Court ruling and we hope this is another step in bringing justice and parity to thousands of store workers whose work has been shamefully undervalued by Tesco for so many years.”

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