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BBC presenter’s equal pay victory could affect other employers

Posted: 12th February 2020   In: Business Employment

TV presenter Samira Ahmed’s equal pay victory against the BBC could lead to an increase in similar claims by employees in other industries.

The publicity generated by the case has highlighted that pay inequality still exists and that employees can take legal action against it and win.

Ahmed claimed that her work presenting the Newswatch programme from 2012 onwards was equal to that of Jeremy Vine presenting the programme Points of View from 2008 to 2018.

Points of View was a 15-minute programme airing the views of the BBC's audience about all BBC programmes. Newswatch was a 15-minute programme providing a forum for discussion and debate of viewers' opinions about BBC News.

However, while Vine received £3,000 per episode, Ahmed received £440.

The Employment Tribunal found in Ahmed’s favour. It held that the work involved in the two programmes was the same or similar. Any differences were minor and had no impact on the work the presenters did, or the skills and experience required to present the programmes.

Audience figures had no bearing on the similar work issue. Nor did the BBC's submission that Points of View was a high-profile entertainment programme. The evidence showed that it was in the BBC's factual genre rather than its entertainment genre. It had not been shown that Vine's role had additional responsibility.

The burden was on the BBC to prove that the difference in pay was caused by some factor other than the difference in sex. It had failed to do so. There was no evidence that factual presenters were paid more than those in news. The audience figures were around the same.

The case highlights the need for employers to have policies in place to prevent sex discrimination and equal pay issues. The case received widespread publicity and is likely to encourage women in other industries to consider making claims if they feel they are being paid less than male colleagues for doing broadly similar work.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women’s rights, said: “The ruling sends a clear message to every woman out there who has the courage to challenge discrimination. If you fight, you can win.

“Across the country, there are probably thousands of women who are not being paid the same as men for the same work or work of equal value.”

Please contact Sorcha Monaghan if you would like advice about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

BBC presenter’s equal pay victory could affect other employers

SAMIRA AHMED v BBC (2020)

ET (H Grewal, S Godecharle, P Secher) 10/01/2020
Posted by: Sorcha Monaghan
Employment
Luton Office