Happy New Equal Pay Year All!

Good news for equal pay supporters at the start of 2020. Bad news for the BBC (again).

Samira Ahmed, journalist, broadcaster and presenter has won her widely reported equal pay claim against the BBC.

Ms Ahmed took the BBC to the Employment Tribunal in response to being paid £465 for each episode she presented on Newswatch compared to fellow presenter Jeremy Vine, who was paid up to £3,000 for each Points of View’s episode he did. She argued they were doing the same job for equal pay purposes. Central London Employment Tribunal agreed.

For 45 years now, women have had the right to equal pay for equal work. Still, too many employers appear to struggle with what is, let’s face it, a relatively straight-forward legal concept. Equal work means work that involves similar tasks which require similar skills (“like work” claims). It also means work that involves different tasks but which require the same level of effort, skill and decision making (“equal value claims”). In Ms Ahmed’s case, the tribunal held that she was doing “like work” to Mr Vine. It then fell to the BBC to prove that the eye-watering difference in pay had nothing to do with sex, which they failed to do.

Inevitably, because of the profiles of the respective parties, this case has received much attention – and so it should. Ahmed’s win paves the way for other women in the sector to demand their equal pay too. Ms Ahmed was one of many women broadcasters at the BBC prepared to voice their concerns over pay inequality after the former China editor Carrie Gracie resigned in 2018 over equal pay.

We may well see the BBC appeal against the decision later this year; If so, it will add to what is already going to be a busy 2020 on the equal pay front. We have the Supreme Court hearing of the long running Asda equal pay fight in July. Tens of thousands of women shop staff are having to wait far too long to have their own equal pay claims decided, including the store staff at national retailer, Next, represented by didlaw’s Elizabeth George. These women’s claims are different from the Ahmed case in so far as they are all arguing that their work is of equal value to warehouse colleagues rather than the jobs being the same. But what all these cases have in common, is the steely determination of the women involved, to not give up.

Well done Samira Ahmed – we salute you!

Full judgment here https://www.judiciary.uk/judgments/ahmed-v-bbc/