Equal pay case lost by BBC against female presenter

Presenter, Samira Ahmed won her equal pay claim against the BBC on the 10/1/20.

Ms Ahmed claimed her work on Newswatch was very similar to Jeremy Vine’s on Points of View, yet Mr Vine was paid far more than Ms Samira.

Mr Vine received £3,000 per episode from 2008 to 2018 which was then reduced to £1,300. On the other hand, Ms Samira only received £440 per episode.

Ms Ahmed believes she is owed £700,000 in back pay and won under section 65(1) of the Equality Act 2010.

The BBC’s argument was that there were notable differences in Mr Vine and Ms Ahmed’s profile of their shows.  As well as Mr Vine’s ability to be “cheeky” which added to Points of View.

Still, Harjit Grewal, employment judge disagreed and said:

The BBC had failed to prove that the differences in pay was caused by the differences between the profiles and audience recognition of the claimant and Jeremy Vine.

Rebecca Berry, senior associate at Stevens & Bolton, a law firm said:

This case does not change the law on equal pay, but it will serve as an example of a success story to female employees who consider that they are paid at a lower rate than male counterparts.

Equal pay claims have, until now, largely been brought against public sector employers, but Ms Ahmed’s success may encourage more claims from employees in the private sector, such as female board members or those in professional services.

The Tribunal considered what factors were in the minds of those who made the decision to set Mr Vine’s pay level in 2008, and Ms Ahmed’s in 2012. Whilst the BBC attempted to rely on a material factor defence based on the differing profiles of the programmes and presenters and market pressures from competitors to retain Mr Vine’s services, the Tribunal found that none of these factors were actually considered by the BBC at the time the decisions to set pay were made. In particular, the Tribunal held that “the BBC found itself in difficulties in this case because it did not (and, to an extent does not) have a transparent and consistent process for evaluating and determining pay for its on-air talent”.

To reduce the risk of following in the BBC’s footsteps, employers should adopt clear processes when setting rates of pay, and ensure that all pay decisions are recorded.

Carolyn Brown, employment lawyer and RSM’s head of client legal services said:

The BBC’s lack of a transparent pay structure at the time their respective pay was set when each of them started working on their programmes meant the BBC could not produce cogent evidence to succeed in its defence that there was a material factor which justified the pay differential between them.

As always in equal pay cases, the pay structures of both the claimant and Mr Vine as the comparator were laid bare as was the interesting fact that Ms Ahmad found out about their respective pay differential when Mr Vine telephoned her to tell her this.

Ms Ahmad can now expect to be awarded six years’ pay differential, which was reported in the press to be around £700k, although another hearing will be required to decide that, unless the amount can now be agreed.





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.