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It has recently been revealed that the BBC may be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 due to the salary report of 19 July 2017 showing that several female stars earn a considerable amount less than their male co-presenters on the same show. The report showed that two thirds of the highest paid stars are men.
From April 2017, companies in the UK with more than 250 employees have 12 months to publish their gender pay gap figures. The BBC’s report revealed that the radio presenter Chris Evans is paid in the region of £2.2m being the highest paid star, whereas the highest earning female at the BBC, Claudia Winkleman, earns more than four times less this figure.
This could potentially lead to the BBC being the respondent in sex discrimination, equal pay and equal value claims if it is unable to justify why certain women are being paid less for the same or comparable jobs or work of equal value. The BBC would have to demonstrate that there is reasonable explanation for the difference in pay which has nothing to do with gender.
Acknowledging the gender imbalance, the BBC’s Director-General Tony Hall has stated the BBC’s target for all lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women by 2020.
However, more than 40 of BBC’s female stars including Clare Balding, Angela Rippon, Alex Jones and Sue Barker have since signed an open letter to Tony Hall demanding that he “act now” to close the pay gap. The letter states that the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. It further states that the female signatories are prepared to meet Tony Hall so that ”future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination” and that their aim is to help other women who are victims of the pay discrimination in the BBC such as those in production, engineering and support services.
Whilst gender pay reports do not have to be published until 4 April 2018, early reporting, or at least gathering the data now, is allowing employers the opportunity to address issues that arise. For more information on gender pay reporting or anything else in this article, please contact David Bradley.