Next facing £30m bill over equal pay legal challenge
Next is facing a possible bill of up to £30m after a group of mainly female shop-floor workers launched legal action against the retailer over equal pay.
The move follows the release of several retailers’ gender pay gap reports, where companies like New Look, Phase Eight and White Stuff revealed gaps of up to 30%.
More than 300 Next workers have joined the equal pay claim, filed at the arbitration service Acas on Wednesday.
Next pays shop-floor staff, who are mostly female, £7.50 an hour, £2 an hour less than mainly male warehouse workers, reported The Guardian on Thursday. Warehouse staff have also access to better bonuses, and are paid a total of £6,000 more than shop-floor workers.
Lawyers representing the group of Next shop assistants said shop-floor roles matched warehouse positions in terms of the value they provide to the business. The tasks, both mental and physical, are comparable to tasks carried out by warehouse workers, and should be compensated equally, said the group.
Elizabeth George, head of employment at Pattinson Brewer, who is representing the Next women commented: “There really aren’t many simpler legal concepts to grasp than this one – staff doing comparable jobs should be paid the same amount. But when you look across every work sector, you will see work, that is traditionally viewed as women’s work, being undervalued. The physical and mental demands on the shop floor are no less than those in the warehouses. The only thing of less substance is the minimum wage being given to our clients.”
If the claim is successful, the workers bringing the action could be entitled to up to 6 years’ worth of back pay.
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