The importance of equal pay in the workplace has played a starring role at an employment tribunal involving two of the BBC’s most familiar faces.
Samira Ahmed claimed she was underpaid for hosting the audience feedback show Newswatch, when compared to colleague Jeremy Vine for his Points of View programme.
The eagerly-awaited judgment ruled that her work was indeed similar to Mr Vine’s under Section 65 (1) of the Equality Act 2010 and upheld her sex discrimination equal pay claim.
In a unanimous ruling, the tribunal panel said the BBC “has not shown that the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the claimant [Ahmed] to sex discrimination”.
It said “the terms relating to pay in the claimant’s contracts for presenting Newswatch from 1 October 2012 to 30 September 2018″ should be “modified so as not to be less favourable than the terms relating to pay in Jeremy Vine’s contracts for present Points of View from 2008 to July 2018″.
Ms Ahmed had claimed that she “could not understand how pay for me, a woman, could be so much lower than Jeremy Vine, a man, for presenting very similar programmes and doing very similar work”.
In its reporting of the findings, the BBC revealed that Vine got £3,000 per episode for BBC One’s Points of View between 2008 and 2018. Ahmed was paid £440 for Newswatch, which is shown on the BBC News Channel and BBC Breakfast.
The employer (BBC) had argued that Mr Vine was better-known, citing audience research carried out in 2017 that found 71% people recognised him, compared with 29% for Ms Ahmed.
In a stark warning to employers who flout equal pay laws, the judgment added: “The difference in pay in this case is striking. Jeremy Vine was paid more than six times what the claimant was paid for doing the same work as her. “The BBC found itself in difficulties in this case because it did not (and, to an extent, still does not) have a transparent and consistent process for evaluating and determining pay for its on-air talent. It has no records (or, if it has them, it has not produced them) of how the pay levels for the claimant and Jeremy Vine were determined.”
In response, the BBC admitted that in the past its pay framework “was not transparent and fair enough” and that “significant changes” were made to address that.
The corporation added: “We know tribunals are never a pleasant experience for anyone involved. We want to work together with Samira to move on in a positive way.”
This judgment serves as a reminder of the right to equal pay for equal work for men and women and serves as a warning to employers to avoid significant pay differences between male and female employees
Whether you are an employee or an employer, if you have any questions or concerns regarding sex discrimination or equal pay, or any other employment law-related issues, please do not hesitate to contact this article’s author, Solicitor Lazuna Ullah, or a member of our Employment Law team here at Milners on 0113 245 0852 or email us at hello@milnerslaw