The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that UK people can rely on EU law in order to make equal pay claims against their employers.
The CJEU confirmed that if a single body is in control of ensuring equality, the roles of shop floor workers and distribution centre workers are comparable even if they work in different establishments.
This ruling gives clarification for arguments brought by several supermarkets, including British retailer Tesco, in relation to equal pay claims.
Thousands of Tesco store workers, most of whom are women, have claimed that they are paid less than their co-workers in warehouse and distribution centres, most of whom are men.
According to media reports, Tesco’s shop floor workers earn up to £3 an hour less than the warehouse and distribution centre workers.
In view of this, men and women working on Tesco shop floors have brought legal claims against the company.
Law firm Leigh Day, which represents more than 50,000 supermarket shop floor workers, is running the claim.
Leigh Day employment team partner Kiran Daurka said: “This judgment reinforces the [UK] Supreme Court’s ruling that the roles of shop floor workers can be compared to those of their colleagues in distribution centres for the purposes of equal pay.
“Clarification from the CJEU confirms that this single-source test can be relied upon by people in the UK bringing an equal value claim. This means that employers can no longer hide behind the grey areas of UK law.
“It’s time for supermarkets to accept that the roles of shop floor workers and distribution centre workers are comparable.”
Tesco has maintained that the roles are different and that any pay disparities are not related to gender.
The Tesco case is being handled by the CJEU as it was sent to the tribunal before the end of the Brexit transition period in December.
In March, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that Asda shop floor workers could be compared to distribution centre roles for the purposes of an equal value assessment.