BBC Says It Has Settled 36 Equal Pay Disputes Since 2018

Samira Ahmed
Samira Ahmed Vickie Flores/LNP/Shutterstock

The BBC has said that it has settled 36 equal pay disputes since 2018, with salary increases being awarded “mostly” to women not being paid as much as their male counterparts.

The figure came to light in BBC evidence to an employment tribunal in London, where it has been locked in a legal wrangle with presenter Samira Ahmed, who claims she is owed close to £700,000 ($900,000) after years of being paid less than fellow presenter Jeremy Vine.

Ahmed has said “it just does not seem fair” that she received £440 for hosting an episode Newswatch, while at the same time, male presenter Jeremy Vine took home £3,000 for recording an installment of Points of View. The BBC has argued that the two shows are very different and Vine has a higher profile with audiences.

Now, the BBC has disclosed figures that show the scale of the pay debate raging among the corporation’s 19,000 employees. It follows the National Union of Journalists, which is representing Ahmed, submitting similar information to the tribunal, except the trade union’s numbers were 10 months out of date.

In a witness statement on Wednesday, Lisa Tsalavos, a senior human resources executive at the BBC, said the broadcaster has had pay “queries” from 1,308 employees after they were encouraged in March 2018 to come forward with any concerns about their salaries. Of these 1,308 queries, the BBC has closed 1,235 cases, with 70 formal cases yet to be resolved.

Tsalavos said the BBC has awarded 758 pay rises as part of the review, 66% of which went to women. But, she said, only 36 of these salary increases — less than 3% — were awarded on the basis of equal pay, and some were handed to men. The remaining 722 pay rises were awarded on what Tsalavos described as a “fair pay basis.”

The BBC and Ahmed’s employment tribunal is set to end on Wednesday, with the judge expected to make a ruling at a later date.

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