Morrisons could be made to pay over £1bn in compensation to women store employees who believe they have been paid less than men in the distribution centres for equal work.
Law firm Leigh Day is representing the employees and has lodged claims with the conciliation service ACAS while awaiting a response from Morrisons CEO David Potts. ACAS has written to Potts on behalf of the first group of clients requesting pay and gender information for workers.
Leigh Day has also asked Morrisons to confirm if they have carried out an equal pay audit. The supermarket has around 80,000 store staff eligible to claim and if the pay is found to be unlawful, could result in a payout in excess of a billion pounds.
Leigh Day is also currently taking legal action on behalf of 30,000 staff working in Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores. The law firm said it believed employees working in predominantly male-dominated distribution centres were paid “considerably more” than largely female-staffed stores and described it as a trend seen across the biggest supermarkets in the country.
Emma Satyamurti, partner in law firm Leigh Day’s employment team, said: “We believe that Morrisons, as with the other major supermarkets, has underpaid those working in its stores for a number of years. The big four supermarkets in the UK make vast amounts each year in profits – it is time that they faced up to their legal obligations under Equal Pay legislation.
“Our clients believe that those working on the shop floor should be paid the same as those in the distribution centres, and a failure to commit to this is not only unfair but unlawful.”
She added: “This legal action is being taken forward to ensure that the work done in stores and distribution centres is recognised as being of equal value; not the same work, but work of equal value and that those working on the shop floor should be paid the same as their colleagues in distribution.”