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BBC ‘didn’t break equal pay law’

January 30, 2018

The BBC has published its review of on-air pay carried out by PwC, and set out a five-point plan to help create a fairer and more equal BBC. The report says the BBC didn’t break the Equal Pay Act. Pressure group BBC Women said they had no faith in the report as they weren’t consulted and its’ remit is not transparent.

The review, which covers correspondents, presenters and on-air editors in news and news-related areas, found no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making, but identified a number of issues in relation to pay which have resulted in anomalies that need addressing, including:

  • Too many pay decisions being made at local levels because of the absence of clear pay frameworks.
  • A lack of clarity and openness about the basis for pay decisions because of the absence of pay ranges for on-air roles.
  • A slower rate of pay progression for both men and women over the past decade because of a period of significant pay restraint.

PwC makes a number of recommendations including a clear pay framework, narrower pay ranges, simpler contracts and allowances and improved transparency. The BBC wants a fair, equal and transparent pay framework for the future, so we will now consult our presenters on this to help ensure we get it right.

The plan unveiled by the BBC today means:

  • Substantial pay cuts for some men and increases for some male and female presenters – prominent men in BBC News have already accepted pay cuts. We have already addressed close to half of the 230 cases raised of pay unfairness and equality by women and men – on and off air. We aim to conclude the rest by the summer.
  • A new on-air framework for determining the pay of people on air – an equal, fair and transparent structure for the future. We will have narrower pay bands because they have become too wide; cut the number of contracts and allowances to be simpler and fairer; and have clear criteria for how pay reflects skills, experience and audience impact. We will fully consult on this to make sure we get it right.
  • Greater pay transparency – we aim to be the most transparent organisation when it comes to pay. When our reforms are complete, everyone will be able to see the pay range for virtually every job in the BBC. Where there are more than 20 people in a job, staff will also be able to see where everyone else is positioned. We will do more to explain the pay of each presenter paid over £150,000, especially where they do more than one role.
  • Review of career progression and working practices for women – we will look at what more we can do to make the BBC a better place for women to work. We already, for example, allow and encourage job shares and other flexible forms of working. We will review what we do to ensure we have the best in class processes and opportunities. We want to help more women progress more quickly at the BBC.
  • We will also accelerate our work to achieve 50:50 representation across the BBC by 2020. Through the year we will continue to make changes to our on-air line-ups at a faster rate.

The BBC is committed to equal pay and will not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, disability, social background or any other characteristic. But, as in any organisation, that does not mean everyone is paid the same. People bring different skills and experience, and take on different responsibilities or risks. But we must apply those factors fairly, transparently and without discrimination.

Director-General Tony Hall says: “The BBC believes in equality. No one should be paid differently because of their gender. The BBC has a special role representing Britain. That is why we need to be and want to be an exemplar on gender pay, and equal pay.

“Today’s report does not find evidence of gender bias in decision-making, but it shows that we have real and important issues to tackle, particularly in some areas of news and current affairs, and I’m determined to get it right. The plans we’re setting out today go further and are more important steps in modernising the BBC and making it fairer.

“We’ve already made an important start. We’re addressing unfairness in individuals’ pay and want to close the gender pay gap and have women in half of our on-air roles by 2020. Those are big, bold commitments I’m really serious about.

“We are clear we’re going to tackle this and change for the better, and I hope other organisations take the same approach. The BBC can and must lead the way. I am determined that we will.”

The report by PwC covers around 800 on-air roles. It makes a series of recommendations, which form the basis of a proposed new pay framework.

PwC’s recommendations are: proposing a grading structure for the on-air group; using narrow pay ranges; addressing outliers both above and below the pay ranges; publishing pay ranges; reviewing the current approach to contracting; simplifying allowances; creating an on-air talent team to help manage the governance for this population; conducting regular reviews; reporting regularly; and continuing to improve diverse representation.

In October we published an equal pay audit of around 18,000 staff which concluded there was no systemic discrimination against women at the BBC. We also published our audited gender pay gap report, which shows the gender pay gap is 9.3 per cent against a national average of 18.1 per cent.

At the same time we set out a range of actions we were taking including access for staff to specialist advice if people have questions about pay, ensuring managers review pay in their team every six months to ensure fairness, and ending single-sex panels for job interviews, as well as striving for diverse shortlists for jobs.

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