Gender pay row resurfaces after resignation of top BBC journalist

11th January 2018

Gender pay row resurfaces after resignation of top BBC journalist

The BBC has once again become embroiled in the furore surrounding gender pay disparity after its China editor resigned citing “unlawful pay inequality” at the corporation.

Carrie Gracie left her job in protest at being paid significantly less than Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North America editor, and Jeremy Bowen, the Middle East editor. She says the BBC told her their jobs were “worth more”.

Her resignation is a timely reminder to businesses of the need to address the issue of the gender pay divide, with larger organisations now required to publish salary information annually.

The issue of the BBC’s gender pay gap first came to prominence in the summer, when the salaries of those earning over £150,000 were made public for the first time. The list revealed that two-thirds of high earners were men, while no women featured among the seven best-paid stars.

In the aftermath of the revelation, the BBC’s most senior female journalists demanded the organisation take action to close the pay divide.

Gracie’s departure has prompted parliamentary debate this week, with new Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock telling MPs that “brilliant women working at all levels of the BBC deserve better”.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says it will write to the BBC before it considers whether further action is required.

Meanwhile, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee Maria Miller said the broadcaster needed to “act and act quickly”. She questioned the success of the BBC’s internal review and asked why the EHRC has “failed to intervene”.

In October, a report found that men working for the BBC earned 9.3% more than women on average compared with an average differential across the UK of 18%.

The BBC is expected to publish a review of on-air staff salaries at the end of the month and says “fairness in pay” is “vital” to the corporation. BBC director general Tony Hall has committed to closing the gap by 2020.

How can Gotelee’s Employment Law Solicitors help you?

Gender pay disparity will continue to be a key issue for companies, now that larger employers are obliged to publish their gender pay gap information under the Equality Act 2010. The Regulations apply to all private, public and voluntary sector organisations with 250 or more employees.

Understanding your obligations is complex. The danger of ignoring the issue is only likely to lead to problems being compounded and stored up for the future, and potentially exposing your organisation to greater risk of equal pay and sex discrimination claims.

Employers, more than ever before, need sound and clear employment law advice on how to manage these risks and to implement changes needed to avoid them.

Gotelee’s team of employment law experts, based in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Melton, can help you. To find out more about what we can do, contact Andrew West on 01473 298102 or email andrew.west@gotelee.co.uk or Marie Allen on 01473 298133 or email marie.allen@gotelee.co.uk

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