BBC gender pay gap: MPs say broadcaster has “failed” on equal pay

The culture select committee pointed to women being paid "far less" than men for the same jobs and called for a "more transparent" pay structure at the corporation

BBC Broadcasting House (Getty, EH)

The BBC has “failed to live up to” its duty to give staff equal pay, according to a new parliamentary report.

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Women at the corporation earn “far less” for doing the same jobs as men according to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee.

Calling for a “more transparent pay structure”, the MPs on the panel also branded the broadcaster “a disgrace” for allegedly ‘coercing’ presenters into being paid via Personal Service Companies.

The report was sparked by the January 2018 resignation of presenter Carrie Gracie, who had accused the BBC of pay discrimination.

In July 2017, the publication of the salaries of the BBC’s highest-earning presenters led to a huge outcry about equal pay, which in turn resulted in the corporation commissioning three investigations into the issue.

The DCMS committee’s report, however, states that “similar transparency is now needed across the board”, and not just for presenters earning over £150,000 a year.

It said: “If the BBC wants to encourage women to come forward with equal pay concerns, it must commit to making substantial improvements to its flawed grievance processes.”

MPs also criticised the BBC for its policy of engaging presenters in work via Personal Service Companies (PSCs) from 2007–2012, saying this had “caused life-altering financial and personal consequences” for its employees.

“As a direct result of the BBC’s actions,” the report said, “many presenters are facing liabilities of hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid income tax and national insurance contributions (NICs).”

The report continued, “We have seen strong evidence that the BBC made presenters feel that a PSC was a mandatory condition of work. This is a disgrace.”

The BBC said in a statement: “While we still have more to do, much of this report is already out of date.

“Recent disclosures by other media organisations show that the BBC’s gender pay gap is amongst the smallest and well below the national average. But we do hold ourselves to a higher standard.

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“That is why our action on pay has seen the BBC make real progress in addressing equal pay cases; carry out an independent audit of equal pay overseen by a former Court of Appeal judge; introduce independent oversight so that disputes can be resolved; take clear steps to rebalance top talent pay; reform our pay structure to ensure fairness and give an unprecedented level of transparency and information about pay ranges for all staff; and, set up independent reviews to see what further steps should be taken on pay transparency.”