Over 2,000 Next store employees who are taking action against the retailer over equal pay have won the second stage in the legal battle.
An employment tribunal ruled yesterday that store staff are equal to their warehouse counterparts they are comparing themselves to, having won two out of three stages the legal process involves.
According to law firm Leigh Day, which is representing the store staff, claimed “the burden now shifts to Next who must prove that although the work is equal there is a non-discriminatory reason allowing them to pay their sales consultants and warehouse staff differently”.
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The retailer’s case was originally launched in 2018 and the third stage hearing is anticipated to occur in March next year.
If the store staff win the legal battle, the law firm revealed they are entitled to receive the difference in their pay and the warehouse operatives’ pay going back up to six years from when they started their claims.
It added that contracts would be also automatically modified to include equal terms in future.
“We are delighted that our Next clients have won this crucial battle. It is a legal win, obviously, but it means a great deal more than that to the people bringing these claims,” Leigh Day barrister and partner Elizabeth George said.
“The sales consultants, overwhelmingly women, had been told by Next that their work is not as demanding as the warehouse operative’s work and so does not attract equal pay and other benefits currently denied to them.
“The Employment Tribunal has found, unanimously, that the work is equal. The end is now in sight for the sales consultants after a battle lasting five years.”
Next employs more than 15,000 store staff across its over 400 stores in the UK.
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