Tesco faces record £4bn equal pay claim

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Nearly 100 Tesco employees have launched a group claim asserting that female shopfloor workers earn up to £3 an hour less than male warehouse staff, which - if successful - could lead to up to 200,000 of Tesco's employees receiving back pay totalling £20,000 per person, according to law firm Leigh Day, their representative.

Leigh Day said it was also now representing over 20,000 shop-floor workers in equal pay claims against fellow Big 4 retailers Sainsbury's and Asda, who both face similar legal challenges regarding discrepancies in pay between the male-dominated distribution centres and the mainly female-staffed stores.

Lawyers claim that the company's hourly-paid female store staff earn up to £3 per hour less than their male colleagues, although the value of their work is comparable.

On Wednesday, Leigh Day, a law firm said that mainly male staff working at the distribution centers were being paid considerably higher wages than its largely female work force at stores.

The law firm said Tesco distribution centre staff may earn in excess of 11 pounds an hour, while the most common grade for store staff saw them receive around 8 pounds per hour.

"There really should be no argument that workers in stores, compared to those working in depots, contribute at least equal value to Tesco's profits".

It follows similar actions against Asda and Sainsbury's.

Prime Minister Theresa May is keen to show she is tackling problems faced particularly by younger Britons, who deprived her ruling Conservatives of a majority in a snap election a year ago by overwhelmingly backing the left-wing Labour Party. By this time, around 7,000 former and current Asda employees had brought claims.

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Leigh Day specialides in human-rights cases that have turned it into a thorn in the side of large companies.

A spokesman said that while Asda was pursuing the appeal the case continued through the Employment Tribunal.

"If the Tesco employees are equally successful then all major retailers, and indeed businesses more generally, could be exposed to a tidal wave of equal pay litigation", said Crowley Woodford, an employment lawyer at Ashurst.

He said the Tesco employees who launched the claim were attempting to "capitalise" on the success of the Asda ruling. This would represent the UK's biggest-ever back pay claim.

Across the United Kingdom, men earned 18.4 percent more than women in April 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures. "As employers review their pay systems they should address any pay inequality they find".

When asked, a spokesperson for Tesco said the company had not received any claim yet.

Tesco has played down the lawsuit, saying it works hard to ensure all staff are paid "equally and fairly".

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