Mishcon de Reya Employment Partner Jennifer Millins is advising a number of senior women at the BBC on equal pay issues. She has studied in detail the reviews on pay that the BBC relies on in response to Carrie Gracie's allegations, and can explain what they do and do not reveal about the BBC's diversity. She can also clarify the difference between fair pay, equal pay and gender pay reports - a distinction the BBC has repeatedly tried to make to justify its position on this issue.
Commenting on Carrie's resignation, in which she alleges that women are frequently paid less for doing equal work and have substantial equal pay claims, Jennifer Millins said:
"The BBC may have hoped that its reported gender pay gap of 9.3%, around half the national average, would go some way to compensate for negative headlines it garnered on the issue last year (in July 2016, the high-earners list revealed that of all staff paid £150,000 or more from licence fee revenue, only one third were women). However, the BBC's gender pay gap figure is not an answer to individual equal pay complaint. Whilst equal pay and the gender gap both deal with the disparity of pay women receive in the workplace, they are two different issues.
"Sir Patrick Elias QC, former Court of Appeal judge and president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, who reviewed both the BBC's recent pay audit and its Gender Pay Report, did conclude that there is no systematic discrimination against women in the BBC’s pay arrangement. However, he also said that this did not mean there could be no individual cases of discrimination. Crucially, this report does not relate to on-air staff in any event, most of whom were expressly excluded from the audit.
"The data remains frustratingly opaque, and if we take a holistic view of the BBC’s various reports, the BBC’s diversity reporting provides few answers for women and gives them little to cheer about. A long-promised review of on air talent pay, which was due out last year, is yet to materialise.
"As Carrie Gracie's resignation shows, failing to pay men and women who are doing the same work the same amount of pay can create a lack of trust between an organisation and its employees. Failing to deal promptly with internal grievances only serves exacerbate this distrust, and in itself is a breach of an employer’s obligations. As well as potential claims of substantial value, businesses should consider the severe reputational risks, both internal and external, which arise from an unconvincing, inconsistent gender pay report which lacks transparency, and a failure to deal with complaints from individuals when they arise."