Thousands of Tesco workers have won a landmark decision against the supermarket in an equal pay case being heard by the European Court of Justice.
The shop floor staff, most of whom are women, accused Britain's biggest grocery retailer of paying them up to £3 per hour less than the mostly male warehouse workers, when their work is of equal value.
The decision could trigger more than £2.5bn in back pay claims for as many as 25,000 female employees, who may be owed compensation after being underpaid for at least seven years, according to press reports.
Around 6,000 current and former workers argued that Tesco should be seen as a single entity in terms of employment conditions, in line with EU law. Tesco claimed the law was not applicable in the UK.
Europe's top court today (3 June) rejected Tesco's arguments and ruled the law applies to private UK businesses as well, in a decision that could affect other retailers.
Earlier this year, the UK's Supreme Court ruled that Asda shop workers can compare their roles with those of their colleagues in distribution centres for the purposes of equal pay. This ruling mainly focused on the UK legal test for comparability.
'This judgment reinforces the Supreme Court's ruling that the roles of shop floor workers can be compared to those of their colleagues in distribution centres for the purposes of equal pay,' said Kiran Daurka, a partner in the employment team at law firm Leigh Day, which represented the Tesco employees.