Irwin Mitchell Highlights That Equal Pay Tribunal Claims Are Up By 37%
The retail sector ranks among the top three sectors in the UK facing equal pay disputes, according to analysis of employment tribunals over the past two years by Irwin Mitchell.
The study uncovered 13 cases within the retail industry where an employment tribunal decision has been made, shedding light on a growing trend that businesses must address appropriately and swiftly.
According to Irwin Mitchell's findings, the number of equal pay cases across the UK has surged by 37% in the past year alone.
This recent spike is largely due to 22 equal pay cases related to one care provider. When these cases are discounted, the sectors seeing the highest numbers of employment tribunal cases in the last two years are retail, logistics/transportation, and manufacturing.
Expert Opinion"The rise in equal pay disputes within the retail sector is a concerning trend that cannot be ignored. Employers must recognise the value of fair compensation and take immediate action to address any discrepancies. By implementing transparent pay structures and conducting regular pay audits, businesses can foster a more inclusive and equitable work environment.
“The failure to recognise and proactively address disparities in pay can carry substantial financial consequences, as evidenced in the ongoing joint claim against the high street retailer, Next. In the event of a successful claim, the retailer may be liable to pay in the tens of millions of pounds in backdated pay compensation.
“In May this year, the Leeds Employment Tribunal unanimously agreed with the women brining the claim, ruling that the work of its predominantly female sales consultants was of equal value to warehouse operatives occupied by mainly male workers. The burden of proof now shifts to Next to prove that there is a non-discriminatory reason for the difference in pay. The final stage of the case is expected in May 2024.
“Should the claimants maintain their success, the implications for Next may be far-reaching. All 2,000 individuals that have joined the claim since 2018 could be entitled to receive up to six years of back pay, equating to the difference in the pay between the sales consultants and the warehouse operatives for this period.” Charlotte Rees-John, Employment Partner and Head of Irwin Mitchell's Consumer Sector Group,
According to Irwin Mitchell’s analysis, supermarkets including Co-op, Lidl, Tesco, Morrisons, and Asda have all been involved in an equal pay dispute. Other retailers include Moss Bros, Lloyds Pharmacy, Travis Perkins and Burberry.
As the number of these claims raises, Irwin Mitchell says it’s important for businesses to undertake role evaluations within their workforces to identify where there may be risks of discrepancies in pay for equal work or equally valuable work. It’s also vital that the evaluations are conducted at various locations. The recent Asda ruling has established that comparators who work at a different site, with slightly different terms and conditions, can still be considered as valid comparators for equal pay purposes.