Why Equal Pay = BBC Headache


If you’ve felt under pressure at work recently, spare a thought for the BBC’s HR Department.  They are currently in an equal pay storm.  Forced to publish the salaries of their top earners, serious questions are being asked.

BBC salaries make the news

Breakfast News announced that top salaries were being published.  Dan Walker joked about the “fun day ahead”.   Dan Walker earns up to £249,000 per annum.  His co-host, Louise Minchin was not on the list.

The published facts have caused much comment. Highest paid employee, Chris Evans, earns more than four times as much as Claudia Winkleman, the highest paid female.  No one with a black, Asian and minority ethic (BAME) background appears in the top 20 earners.  Two thirds of those on the published list are white males.

From the comfort of my sofa, it’s hard to see why male and female presenters of the same shows have different salaries.  There may be some justification.  Equally, some serious questions have to be asked.  This list only looked at those earning over £150,000.  Is this just the tip of the iceberg?


Will your company be making headlines?

If you have 250 workers or more, from 5th April 2018 you will need to publish your own gender pay reports.   Workers will include contractors and some self-employed people.

You will need to publish the following:

  • average gender pay gap as a mean average
  • average gender pay gap as a median average
  • average bonus gender pay gap as a mean average
  • average bonus gender pay gap as a median average
  • proportion of males receiving a bonus payment and proportion of females receiving a bonus payment
  • proportion of males and females when divided into four groups ordered from lowest to highest pay.

Expect further headlines next year!



Not Paying Equal Pay = Discrimination

Failing to pay equal pay is a form of discrimination.  There is no upper limit on the award in a discrimination claim.

A person cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, age, sexuality, disability, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity leave, religion or beliefs or gender reassignment.  These are known as the ‘protected characteristics’.

To pursue an equal pay claim, the worker needs a comparator with a different protected characteristic.


Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value

If you have several staff doing the same job, at the same level, they should receive equal pay.  That’s straightforward.  However, the law goes further.  For an equal pay claim to succeed, the work does not have to be identical.  It has to be of equal value.

In October 2016, a Tribunal found that supermarket workers at ASDA could proceed with a claim that their work was of equal value to those that worked in ASDA’s warehouses.  The supermarket workers are mainly women.  The warehouse workers are mainly men.

If this case is lost at a Tribunal, ASDA may face claims for back pay and benefits for up to 6 years.


Equal pay is rightly not going away.  Take a close look now at the salaries you pay your staff.  Are you paying equal pay for work of equal value?  While you are at it, are you paying salaries competitive to the market?  If you don’t pay your talent fairly, someone else will.

Think how much upset the BBC could have saved if they had only looked ahead.  Save yourself your own HR headache by reviewing salaries now.  If you need any support, please contact me.

Categories Discrimination, Minimum wage