Day 2 of Asda’s long running equal pay dispute is under way in Manchester today. Asda is defending some 7,000 equal pay claims from some of its female shop workers who claim they should be paid the same as male employees working in Asda’s distribution centres as their work is of “equal value”.

Briefly, equal pay legislation states that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. There are 3 categories of “equal work” and individuals can rely on one or more of them to bring an equal pay claim.

  1. The roles involve like work.
  2. The work is rated as equivalent.
  3. The work is of equal value.


The claimants in the Asda litigation are arguing that their work on the shop floor is of equal value to the work performed by men in the distribution centres. In order to succeed with this type of claim they need to demonstrate that the jobs are of equal value in terms of the demands made on the claimants and their male comparators. 

The current hearing in Manchester is tasked with analysing the job descriptions for the various roles to determine whether the work is of equal value. If the claimants succeed Asda may be looking at a significant pay out, with some estimating a figure of £100m.

Given the sums of money involved, other large retailers, and in particular supermarkets, are likely to await the outcome of this litigation with great interest. It will also have implications beyond the retail sector for employers who have staff on different pay arrangements in different parts of their businesses.