Over the last few years, a number of high-profile female presenters and journalists have claimed that the BBC has broken equal pay legislation, paying them considerably less than male employees doing the same or similar work.
So, what did the Equality and Human Rights Commission make of the situation, having recently conducted an investigation into the ‘Beeb’s’ practices?
In simple terms, the Equality Act 2010 requires men and women to be paid the same rate of pay where they:
1. do the same or broadly similar work
2. do work of equal value
3. do work that has been rated as ‘equivalent’ by an appropriate job evaluation study.
Against this backdrop, what should we make of the well-publicised cases of Carrie Gracie (a former BBC journalist), Samira Ahmed (the BBC television presenter) and Sarah Montague (the Radio 4 presenter), all of whom have argued that they have been paid considerably less than comparable male members of the BBC staff for doing the same work?
In Samira Ahmed's case, she sought to compare her pay to that of Jeremy Vine. Ms Ahmed argued that her work in presenting a programme called ‘Newswatch’ was the same or broadly similar to work undertaken by Jeremy Vine in relation to ‘Points of View’. When her case came before an Employment Tribunal, the ET agreed with Ms Ahmed, with the BBC unable to adequately explain the substantial difference in pay between Ms Ahmed and Mr Vine.
In the Sarah Montague case, the former ‘Today’ presenter ultimately settled her claim against the BBC for a reported £400,000, after she pointed out that she received a significantly lower salary than her male colleagues, John Humphreys and Nick Robinson.
The EHRC’s report
The EHRC initiated an investigation into the BBC's pay practices back in 2019 and the report was finally published in the last few weeks. Interestingly, the EHRC found no evidence of any unlawful pay discrimination within the organisation. Instead, broadly speaking, the EHRC simply recommended that the BBC improve its levels of transparency and communication with staff, acknowledging that trust amongst female employees was lower than it should be.
The right decision?
Does this all ring true to you? Some of the women at the heart of the previous equal pay claims don’t think so. Carrie Gracie, for example, has been swift to express her dissatisfaction at the EHRC's conclusions.
If you want to read more, you can find a full copy of the EHRC’s report via the link below: