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Is the Sainsbury’s equal pay claim just for female employees?

Equal pay has become a hot topic in recent years, with many major supermarkets facing equal pay challenges. Sainsbury’s, one of the UK’s leading supermarket chains, is involved in the scandal. 

Sainsbury’s is accused of paying its predominately male distribution centre employees more than its predominately female store workers. Despite both groups performing roles of equal value.  

Understanding equal pay laws 

Equal pay legislation, rooted in the Equality Act 2010, states that men and women in the same employment, performing work of equal value, must receive equal pay. The legislation aims to eliminate gender-based pay discrimination and ensure fairness in the workplace. 

Despite Sainsbury’s distribution centre workers (mostly male) and store workers (largely female), doing roles of equal value, shop workers are paid significantly less than their warehouse counterparts. Lawyers argue that this breaks equal pay laws.  

Is gender a factor in the Sainsbury’s equal pay claim? 

Traditionally, certain industries and job roles have been predominantly held by either men or women due to societal norms and historical practices. Jobs that are traditionally associated with women, such as customer service roles, are often undervalued compared to roles perceived as more technical or physical, which are typically male dominated. 

Employers sometimes use different job roles or job titles as a justification for pay disparities without properly assessing whether the work performed is of equal value. This can perpetuate gender-based pay gaps. Even when job roles are different, there may be unconscious biases in how the value of work is evaluated. These biases can lead to lower pay for roles traditionally held by women, even if the skills, effort, and responsibility required are comparable to roles traditionally held by men. 

Recent legal developments, including rulings in employment tribunals, have supported the argument that roles traditionally held by men (such as those in distribution centres) can be compared to roles traditionally held by women (such as those in stores) for the purposes of equal pay claims.

In September 2021, Sainsbury’s admitted that the roles done by its shop floor workers were as tough as those by its higher-paid warehouse staff. As a result, the supermarket’s case now rests on its ability to show that the roles are not of equal value, or that the reason for the pay difference is not based on gender.  

Nevertheless, while the pay disparity at Sainsbury’s may have gender implications, the equal pay claim itself is not just for female employees. Both male and female store workers who have been unfairly paid can potentially take legal action 

Can you join a Sainsbury’s equal pay claim  

If you are a Sainsbury’s store employee and are underpaid compared to distribution centre workers, you could have an equal pay claim. This applies to both current and former employees who were paid on an hourly basis. 

Our simple eligibility checker provides instant clarity. Answer a few straightforward questions, and you’ll know if you could qualify for a Sainsbury’s equal pay group action claim. It will only take a few seconds to check your eligibility and there’s no obligation to proceed. 

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