BBC SALARIES REVEALED - LEGAL COMMENT
Mishcon de Reya Partner Jennifer Millins, who represented Carrie Gracie in her equal pay dispute with the BBC, said:
"The scrutiny generated by the publication of last year's list prompted the formation of the BBC Women's group, and their tireless campaigning eventually forced the BBC, six or so months on, to recognise it had a serious problem that it needed to take urgent steps to rectify. This was not until the BBC had published several self-serving reports funded by the licence-fee payer. It was only when BBC management gave evidence to the DCMS select committee at the end of January, alongside Carrie Gracie, that it became abundantly clear that the BBC had exercised no central oversight over comparative pay and had never trained decision-makers on the concept of equal pay. At that hearing, the BBC tried – and failed – to blame its HR department for the substantial inequality in pay between men and women at the BBC.
"Since then, the BBC has launched a controversial review to re-band on air talent. It has settled a number of cases, including that of Carrie Gracie.
"Recently, the BBC published a revised gender pay gap report, citing a reduction from 9.3% to 7.6%. Like this year's high earners list, it does not look at earnings from BBC Studios, which is now a separate commercial entity, and will therefore have to publish its own stats. The rhetoric is much more humble, and the key is in Tony Hall's note in the introduction: "the changes we're making are about more than pay – they're about progression". The gender pay gap is not about inequality of pay per se, and the BBC has learnt from its attempts last year to defend allegations of equal pay by citing its relatively low gender pay gap. The two are not the same thing. The gender pay gap is caused by many different factors – lack of female progression being one of the main causes.
"However, as this year's high earners list shows, pay equality at the BBC appears to remain an aspiration, not a reality. This is not only not good enough, it is unlawful. There are significant differences in the reporting, for example - this year's list details what programmes employees work on and how many programmes they commit to . This does not allow for a direct comparison to be drawn by anyone concerned that they may have an equal pay claim, but it will be one of a number of factors that determines pay.
"As a result of last year's crisis, the BBC is constantly negotiating major salary adjustments with its female on air talent. In a number of cases it is also reaching agreements to cut men's salaries - a drastic measure that reflects the true extent of a systemic equal pay crisis which has been allowed to build over many years. The BBC has published an up to date summary snapshot for salaries in June 2018, projecting ahead for the whole of 2018/19 as opposed to basing the figures solely on the last financial year. This does, however, mean assumptions have been made about the pattern of work through the next nine months.
"It is important to remember that the BBC's equal pay crisis affects women at all levels of the corporation. The high earners list only reflects the problem at the top end of the pay scale. Behind this are hundreds of women who are paid significantly less than those in the list, and whose equal pay concerns are no less acute. There is a risk that the high earners list has led the BBC to prioritise the resolution of equal pay complaints amongst high earners - and even these are taking the BBC many months to resolve - at the expense of more junior employees who can least afford to be underpaid."
For more information or to arrange an interview with Jennifer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7637 0656