What can the BBC teach us about equal pay?

News on 15 January 2020

Have you thought about how you set rates of pay for your employees?

If it is not yet part of your 2020 strategy, you may want to consider moving it up the list of important things to think about and act on.

The BBC have already been in the news this month. Television presenter Samira Ahmed has brought a successful equal pay claim against the BBC. Represented by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) she was one of 121 women to raise a collective equal pay grievance against the BBC.

Samira Ahmed was paid £440 for each episode of Newswatch, whilst Jeremy Vine was paid £3,000 per episode Points of View. Ahmed claimed that there was gender pay discrimination and that she was owed £700,000 in back pay.

The interesting point to note is that it was the BBC’s failure to produce “any transparent or consistent process for evaluating and determining pay for its on-air talent”.

Rather amusingly the BBC argued that Vine’s role as presenter of a factual entertainment programme, which included humour, required a “glint in the eye”, for which extra skill and experience was necessary.

However, the tribunal rejected this defence, ruling the roles were in fact “virtually the same” and rejecting the claim that presenting Points of View required extra skill. The tribunal judgment noted that "the attempts at humour came from the script. Jeremy Vine read the script from the autocue. He read it in the tone in which it was written. If it told him to roll his eyes he did. It did not require any particular skill or experience to do that."

Whether your employees have a “glint in their eye” or a certain je ne sais quoi it is best HR practice to give consideration and keep a record of the levels of salary and why they are set at a certain level or awarded to different employees at different rates.

Don’t forget that since 2017 it is a requirement of employers with more than 250 employees are required to undertake gender pay gap reporting. Here is some more information about it 

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