Alan Jones, Averta Employment Lawyers, comments on BBC revealing senior staff salaries and gender pay gap:
“Why the Government imposed an obligation on the BBC to reveal salaries of staff earning over £150K isn’t entirely clear. What is clear is that publishing senior staff salaries has however caused a good deal of embarrassment both to the Corporation and to the individuals whose pay has been revealed.
It is clear from the figures, that there is a disparity in income between male and female employees earning over £150,000 a year.
There will be winners and losers in this exercise. The winners may well be the female “stars” who are able to argue for more money and, possibly, claim for backdated loss of earnings going into many hundreds of thousands of pounds. It is somewhat unlikely, but in some cases, there will be losers too, possibly the male “stars” who could find their contracts re-negotiated downwards.
Equal pay claims come in a variety of different forms, and there are a variety of defences available to the employer, from ‘differences’ in the roles, to ‘market forces’, to previous experience, and many others. Some apparently different jobs may be rated ‘equivalent’, as in cases where dinner ladies have been held ‘equivalent’ to the work done by refuse collectors, or ‘like work’. But male employees whose salaries are under threat of reduction would have breach of contract claims, also running into thousands’
The biggest loser will be the licence payer as there is little doubt that this disclosure will put upward pressure on the total wage bill for the BBC, and that this will inevitably work through to the cost of the TV licence. The alternative of course is that the BBC lets go its expensive stars, who move to other channels at possibly even greater salaries. The loser in that case might be the viewer as there is no doubt that the quality of the BBC productions may well be damaged by the exits.
As in many situations like this, the only winners will be the lawyers working for those who have been wronged and the legal advisers to the BBC that have to put together imaginative defences to claims.
All companies with over 250 employees will need to disclose gender pay gap from April 2018, so it will be interested to see what the consequences are in this case. As of today, it seems as if female employees are already preparing to take legal action.
Whilst the BBC will have to deal with the fall out in terms of unhappy staff; it is likely the Government will regret its decision to force salary disclosure. The large amounts of money paid to BBC stars once again focuses the public eye on the disparity and inequality in society. A lady rang the radio yesterday to make the very valid point that a senior nurse, saving lives and making people better, can expect to earn £43,000, so how can anyone justify a salary of 5 or 10 times that amount?”