More than 400 of the retailer’s shop workers have engaged a law firm to press for equal pay rates with distribution centre and warehouse staff.
Having conceded that the roles are comparable, Next will have to prove to the employment tribunal’s satisfaction that the comparative roles are not of equal value or, failing that, why there is a reason that they are not paid equally.
Next store staff typically earn between £2 and £6 less per hour than distribution centre workers. Close to nine out of ten shop workers at Next are women and most of the 400+ Next workers backing the legal claim are female.
If Next loses the legal battle, it could end up increasing wage costs by around £100mln, retail industry sources have said.
“This is very welcome news for all the hardworking Next store staff involved in this claim,” said Elizabeth George, a barrister specialising in employment law at Leigh Day.
“They can now move forward, and the employment tribunal can focus on the question that is the crux of these claims: is store work of equal value to the work in the warehouses?” she added.