Next has conceded that it can compare the roles of its store workers and distribution centre and warehouse employees, bringing the workers’ equal pay claims one step closer to success.
Over 400 Next staff members brought the case against the retail group, stating that shop floor work is equally as demanding as distribution centre and warehouse roles.
Proving comparability represents the first of three stages for equal pay claims, with the next step centring around whether Next can prove the positions are not of equal value for any reason other than gender.
Some 86% of Next store staff are currently women, and earn between £2 and £6 an hour less than the firm’s distribution centre employees.
If won, the case could cost Next up to £100m, subject to whether the group’s 25,000 eligible store staff join the claim.
Next’s decision to concede on the first step follows the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling in March that claimed the two roles can be compared with one another in relation to a case at Asda.
Elizabeth George, barrister at Leigh Day who is representing the store workers, said that the news is “very welcome” for the “hardworking Next store staff involved in this claim”.
She added: “They can now move forward, and the employment tribunal can focus on the question that is the crux of these claims: is store work of equal value to the work in the warehouses?
“I believe the answer should, and will be, an emphatic yes, but only time will tell.”
Retail Sector has contacted Next for comment.