19 Jul 2017

Lorraine Heard, Legal Director, said:

"Today's disclosure of the salaries of the BBC top talent list raises two interesting gender pay issues. Firstly there is a striking imbalance between the number of males and females on the list. Whilst this calls into question the organisation's approach to gender equality in general it does not, of itself, establish unlawful behaviour.

"The second issue concerns the relative rates of pay as between males and females on the list. Employees who undertake equal work are entitled to the same rate of pay. Equal work does not mean that employees have to do the same or similar jobs. If the work of a female employee is of 'equal value' to that of the male employee she is entitled to the same rate of pay, unless the employer can establish a non-discriminatory reason for the pay difference that can be justified if necessary. Work is of 'equal value' if it is equally demanding, including in terms of skill, effort and decision making.

"Undoubtedly the BBC would argue that it pays what it needs to pay to recruit and retain the unique and undoubtedly talented individuals it employs. Whether such an argument would be sufficient to justify a pay differential between a male and female employee whose roles are similar is debatable, and perhaps one that the females on the list will be considering closely in the coming weeks."