Law firm Leigh Day has lodged the first batch of claims with the Employment Tribunal against UK supermarket giant Morrisons over its gender pay gap.

Leigh Day is seeking compensation for 1,000 Morissons shop floor staff, mainly female, who believe they are paid less than the predominately-male workers in distribution centres.

Claim against the supermarket

The law firm argues that although work carried out in stores and warehouses is different, the work should be recognised as being of equal value.

According to the law firm, with 80,000 of Morrisons staff potentially eligible to claim, the final bill for back pay could be in excess of £1bn

Leigh Day’s employment team partner Emma Satyamurti said: “We believe that Morrisons has made the same mistake as the other big supermarkets – Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – by underpaying those working in the stores. These are huge companies with big profits and they have no excuse for not facing up to their legal obligations under Equal Pay legislation.

“Our clients are fighting for equal pay with those working in the distribution centres, who they believe are doing work of equal value. The law states that women and men doing work of equal value should be paid the same.

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“As we marked Equal Pay Day this weekend, on the same date as the last two years, it is clear that businesses must do more to ensure they are taking their responsibilities in relation to equal pay seriously and move swiftly to correct any inequalities that are identified.”

A spokesperson for Morrisons said: “We believe we pay our colleagues fairly and equally for the job that they do, irrespective of their gender, and we will be defending this claim.”

What is the Morrisons gender pay gap?

In a gender pay gap report submitted by Morrisons to the government in  2017, it was revealed that women’s mean hourly rate was 14.3% lower than that of men, meaning when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 86p for every £1 men earn at the chain.

It was also revealed that there were only 37% of women in the top paid positions at the supermarket, while there were 71% of women in the lowest paid positions.

Leigh Day is currently representing over 30,000 shop-floor workers in equal pay claims against supermarket giants including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, who all face claims of discrepancies in pay between the male-dominated distribution centres and the mainly female staffed stores.

What are the gender pay gaps at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda?

Sainsbury’s has the biggest gender pay gap of the big four UK supermarkets: women at the chain earn 14.8% less on average per hour than men.

At Asda women earn 12.8% less per hour than men and at Tesco the gender pay gap is 11.5%, according to figures submitted to the UK government.

On 13 November, a preliminary hearing took place in a claim against Tesco’s gender pay gap after it was revealed that store workers, who are predominantly female, were paid up to £3 an hour less than warehouse and distribution centre workers, who are mainly men.