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BBC under formal investigation over pay discrimination against women

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it believed that some women at the BBC did not receive equal pay for equal work. Its investigation will seek to establish whether the corporation has broken the law.

This is not the first time that the BBC has come under fire. Since pay transparency figures were published in July 2017, the BBC has faced anger from female staff members as it was revealed that two-thirds of its highest earners were men. As a result, hundreds of women have been given salary rises after submitting grievances, however, many are still sitting as unresolved.

Chief executive at the EHRC, Rebecca Hilsenrath, explained that it has been a legal requirement for nearly 50 years to pay both men and women the same salary for the same job, and that “every organisation should know we are fully committed to ensuring employers comply with equal pay law.”

A BBC spokesperson acknowledged the historic equal pay cases and the work the company have been doing to resolve such disputes:

“Over the past two years we have actively encourage people to come forward with questions over their pay. Many of them have been routine queries, and we have now resolved more than 85% of them.”

In December of last year, 316 BBC staff – 212 women and 104 men – got a pay rise after asking for their salaries to be reviewed under a system established to correct past inequalities. The average increase was over £6,000, and almost £2 million was added to the annual wage bill.

The EHRC will examine formal and informal grievances that have been raised by BBC staff to determine whether there has been unlawful pay discrimination against women. The investigation will look at the differences in pay for the roles of female complainants compared with those in comparator roles, and identify whether there is a “material reason for that difference that is not a difference because of sex”. The inquiry will focus on pay practices from January 2016.

The EHRC expects to conclude the investigation by the end of the year, and will publish a report with its findings and any actions or recommendations for the BBC.

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