UK Co-op’s former HRD wins equal pay and unfair dismissal case UK Co-op’s former HRD wins equal pay and unfair dismissal case

UK Co-op’s former HRD wins equal pay and unfair dismissal case
29 Nov 2018

The former chief HR officer at the UK’s Co-operative Group has won equal pay and unfair dismissal claims against the company. 

Manchester Employment Tribunal ruled that Sam Walker was discriminated against by the organisation’s appraisal process. It indicated that the Co-op “directly discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sex” when she was treated more harshly than male colleagues in her annual appraisal.

But the Tribunal rejected claims she had been dismissed for raising concerns about being paid less than male board members, according to People Management. Walker, who was appointed as chief HR officer in 2014, lodged claims over equal pay in 2015 after she compared her salary to that of male counterparts at the company.

Walker told the Guardian: “The Co-op have been found wanting, and I want to see the organisation change as a result. Going through this process has also revealed to me that the law is fundamentally flawed and must change."

But she also argued that, at a more fundamental level, societal change was also required too. “People shouldn’t want to work for companies who treat their employees differently and are breaking the law,” Walker said.

Sam Smethers, chief executive at the Fawcett Society, a charity that campaigns for gender equality and women's rights, said the case had made it clear how important awareness of the situation was in relation to equal pay, according to HR Grapevine.

“This case is hugely significant because it shows what is possible when women get the chance to challenge pay discrimination," she attested. "Very few women do; most are completely shut out. Pay discrimination can happen anywhere and that’s why we have to support women on low incomes particularly.”

The ruling follows the publication of a Fawcett Society report that found that one in three people are not aware that it is illegal to pay men and women differently for equal work, HR Management reported

In a bid to address the issue, the Fawcett Society has teamed up with employment law charity YESS Law to launch a new Equal Pay Advice Service. It has been bankrolled by an Equal Pay Fund that arose from a donation of backdated pay from former BBC China editor, Carrie Gracie. The service will be targeted at those on low incomes who claim to be experiencing pay discrimination but do not have access to legal advice.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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The former chief HR officer at the UK’s Co-operative Group has won equal pay and unfair dismissal claims against the company. 

Manchester Employment Tribunal ruled that Sam Walker was discriminated against by the organisation’s appraisal process. It indicated that the Co-op “directly discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sex” when she was treated more harshly than male colleagues in her annual appraisal.

But the Tribunal rejected claims she had been dismissed for raising concerns about being paid less than male board members, according to People Management. Walker, who was appointed as chief HR officer in 2014, lodged claims over equal pay in 2015 after she compared her salary to that of male counterparts at the company.

Walker told the Guardian: “The Co-op have been found wanting, and I want to see the organisation change as a result. Going through this process has also revealed to me that the law is fundamentally flawed and must change."

But she also argued that, at a more fundamental level, societal change was also required too. “People shouldn’t want to work for companies who treat their employees differently and are breaking the law,” Walker said.

Sam Smethers, chief executive at the Fawcett Society, a charity that campaigns for gender equality and women's rights, said the case had made it clear how important awareness of the situation was in relation to equal pay, according to HR Grapevine.

“This case is hugely significant because it shows what is possible when women get the chance to challenge pay discrimination," she attested. "Very few women do; most are completely shut out. Pay discrimination can happen anywhere and that’s why we have to support women on low incomes particularly.”

The ruling follows the publication of a Fawcett Society report that found that one in three people are not aware that it is illegal to pay men and women differently for equal work, HR Management reported

In a bid to address the issue, the Fawcett Society has teamed up with employment law charity YESS Law to launch a new Equal Pay Advice Service. It has been bankrolled by an Equal Pay Fund that arose from a donation of backdated pay from former BBC China editor, Carrie Gracie. The service will be targeted at those on low incomes who claim to be experiencing pay discrimination but do not have access to legal advice.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Why pay transparency makes sense

Glasgow City Council workers strike over equal pay

Tesco hit with potential £4bn legal challenge over equal pay in UK

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