The BBC's Gender Pay Gap

31 Jul 2017

The BBC’s Gender Pay Gap

The BBC is facing criticism due to the apparent gender inequality amongst its top paid stars. Required to publish details of its on-air talent earning over £150,000 in licence-fee revenue, the recently published information has revealed that just over two-thirds of those top paid stars are male; and that the highest earning male (Chris Evans) earns more than 4 times that of the highest earning female (Claudia Winkleman).

Will this spark Equal Pay Claims?

Given the open letter to the BBC from more than 40 female BBC presenters and actors asking the Director General to correct the disparity, the information has clearly prompted those affected to speak out. Whether it will also spark equal pay claims remains to be seen.

Such a claim would need to be brought on the basis that male and female on-air talent at the BBC are not receiving the same pay for equal work. The information that the BBC has published does not fully address this question – for example it does not show exactly what work or how much work has been performed for the listed pay. However, the ongoing Asda equal pay class action, where female shop staff have been allowed to compare themselves to the predominately male staff based in distribution centres, indicates that this would certainly all be up for argument; so a female prime time TV presenter might seek to compare herself to the male presenter of a flagship radio breakfast show.

Even where there is equal work, it is possible for any disparity in pay to be justified due to a “material factor” which is not directly or indirectly due to sex. Here, the BBC is likely to rely on such factors as market forces (the need to attract and retain talent due to increasing commercial competitors) and seniority; as long as it is also able to show that those reasons aren’t inherently discriminatory.

What information do employers need to publish?

Whilst the BBC was required to make this specific information available as part of a new Royal Charter, employers with 250 or more employees will also have to publish their first gender pay gap information by 4 April 2018 at the latest, and thereafter on an annual basis. Some employers have already published their gender pay information which can be viewed on the government website: Gender Pay Gap Data

To see a worked example of the information that needs to be published and how the calculations work in practice, please click on the link below: Managing Gender Pay Gap

 

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