In a recent Court of Appeal judgment it was held that a large supermarket’s female retail employees can compare themselves to male employees working in warehouses and distributions centres for equal pay purposes, even though they are based at different sites. A comparison could be made because common terms and conditions were applied to the relevant groups regardless of what establishment/location they would have worked at i.e. if retail employees were transferred to do their own jobs at the warehouse and distribution sites (and vice versa). This was the first step of an equal pay claim. The next steps are to determine whether: (i) the employees’ roles are of equal value; and if so, (ii) the pay disparity between roles can be justified.
In light of this decision, employers should be more alert to equal pay risks and review pay equity holistically across their organisation including between employees at different sites. Employers should consider carrying out a comprehensive equal pay review to assess existing or potential risks, evaluate their existing job grading structures and assess if they would be able to successfully defend an equal pay claim if challenged. The potential financial and reputational implications of getting this wrong can be very significant.