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BBC Equal Pay Problems

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The BBC is facing further Equal Pay problems after the claim last year by the then-China editor Carrie Gracie that she was being paid significantly less than comparable (male) BBC journalists.

The presenter Samira Ahmed has issued a claim for Equal Pay in the Employment Tribunal after exhausting an internal process. The case, which is currently being heard in the Central London Employment Tribunal, is that Ms Ahmed was paid significantly less per episode for presenting the BBC news channel show Newswatch than Jeremy Vine was paid for presenting Points of View on BBC 1.

In order to succeed in her claim, Ms Ahmed will need to persuade the Tribunal that she was undertaking "like work", "work rated as equivalent" or "work of equal value" to her chosen comparator. The Tribunal is likely to hear detailed evidence about the two programmes themselves as well as the work/input from the presenter concerned to determine if the "work" of presenting these two different programmes is "like work" or "work of Equal value".

The Tribunal will then need to consider whether the BBC has a defence to paying two employees differing amounts. This is known as the "material factor" defence. The Material Factor invoked by the BBC cannot in itself be tainted by discriminatory factors.

If successful in her claim, Ms Ahmed will be entitled to compensation for the difference between her pay for each episode of Newswatch since she started presenting it 7 years ago and that of Mr Vine during the same time period. She would also be entitled to a declaration that all future pay for presenting Newswatch is to be at the same rate as her comparator.

The case is likely to reveal a fascinating insight into how the BBC judges the "value" of its presenters and what factors (if any) it takes into account when deciding what to pay its journalists and presenters.  It also remains to be seen whether this claim opens a floodgate of similar claims from other female presenters and journalists at the BBC and other media organisations.