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BBC loses equal pay case against Samira Ahmed

Samira Ahmed has won her sex discrimination case against the BBC. She argued that her pay for presenting Newswatch should have matched that of Jeremy Vine for his work on Points of View.

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Ahmed was paid £465 per episode presented, whereas Vine commanded £3,000 an episode.

 

A panel of three judges found that both programmes lasted for a duration of 15 minutes and were presented in magazine format. The only real difference was that Newswatch only allowed viewers to discuss the news as opposed to general programming, which was deemed as being a minor difference, which “had no impact on the work that the two presenters did, or the skills and experience required to present the programmes.”

 

The panel disregarded the BBC’s argument that there was additional pressure placed on Vine because he was presenting a show which had previously been fronted by well-known figures such as Terry Wogan.

 

Danielle Crawford, senior associate at law firm Winckworth Sherwood, commented on the case: “Ms Ahmed has been successful in demonstrating that she carried out work of equal value to her male comparator and the BBC has failed to convince the Tribunal that the difference in pay was due to a non-discriminatory material factor. The BBC may, of course, appeal the decision.

 

“In order to succeed in an equal pay claim, the claimant must show that they carry out equal work to that of a comparator who is of the other gender and who is in the same employment. In reality, this is not as straightforward as it sounds and usually requires experts to assess the work carried out. Further, even if the claimant is able to establish that the work they carry out is equal to that carried out by their comparator, any difference in pay terms can be defended if the employer can prove the difference is due to a genuine material factor which is not discriminatory.

 

“According to the most recent Employment Tribunal statistics, equal pay claims were in the top three complaints received in the July to September 2019 quarter. This high profile case is therefore likely to be one of many this year, especially since awareness of gender pay differences is increasing now that larger employers are required to publish their gender pay gap reports. Notwithstanding the fact that this type of claim is becoming increasingly common, equal pay claims are notoriously complex and very fact specific.”

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