Reports claim BBC issues more than £3m in payouts to avoid further equal pay claims
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Over the last few years, the BBC has come under fire for its unfair treatment of employees. It transpired that the organisation had been severely underpaying several female workers for doing very similar jobs to their male counterparts.
Recent reports from sources close to the BBC reveal that they have paid out over £3 million to numerous employees in a bid to avoid equal pay tribunals.
This news comes after the BBC lost a significant equal pay claim in the first week of January 2020. A BBC journalist, Samira Ahmed, lodged the claim a couple of years ago when she discovered she’d been unfairly paid for her work.
She was the host of Newswatch and got paid £440 per episode. By comparison, Jeremy Vine - the host of Points of View - was being paid £3,000 per episode. The disparity in wages was staggering, particularly when both programmes effectively followed the same format.
At the time, this was big news. As a result, the BBC docked Vine’s wage - though he was still being paid much more. They tried to make arguments to justify the lack of equal pay, but the tribunal judge was having none of it. Ahmed was claiming a sum of £693,000 in back pay for the period between 2008-2018 when Vine was earning a lot more than her. The judge ruled in her favour, and the BBC had to pay her.
It would seem that the legendary broadcasting company didn’t enjoy this experience. They want to avoid more equal pay tribunals, which is why they’ve resorted to making over £3 million in payouts to various employees throughout the company. It’s believed that they negotiated sums with different workers to keep them happy and make up for the lack of equal pay. Some of these payments were in the six-figure range, which suggests senior members of the company were involved. However, most are believed to be quite modest.
As of right now, it’s discovered there are 20 or so equal pay claims against the BBC. All of these claims are waiting to go to tribunal, but it’s thought that the BBC is working hard to reach settlements before it makes it to that stage. When Ahmed’s tribunal started, there was a total of 70 cases against the BBC. So, the overall figure has been slashed by 50, and many of these have either been dropped or settled by other means.
Equal pay tribunals can go on for years - as the case of Ahmed has shown. This is why the BBC are so keen to try and negotiate settlements internally with their disgruntled employees. By agreeing on figures between the two parties, it does two things. Firstly, it avoids the drawn-out tribunals. Secondly, it keeps everything under wraps and prevents these figures from going public.
The BBC is increasingly under the spotlight when it comes to equal pay. For years, they managed to hide the fact that female employees were being paid far less for doing the same job as men. The fact that these findings were made public has forced the organisation to alter their approach. While equal pay still hasn’t come into play all throughout the company, changes are being made to even things out.
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About the author
James is on the Business Development & Account Management team at Neathouse Partners and regularly posts articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law, including case law & legislation updates. If you have a particular issue you would like addressed, feel free to drop James an email, and he will be happy to offer his assistance.
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