News, Culture & Society

BBC faced with massive backdated equal pay bill

  • Female BBC stars could seek equal back pay going back up to six years 
  • Last Monday, China editor Carrie Gracie resigned over the equal pay scandal 
  • Ms Gracie discovered she was paid less than male foreign editors at the BBC
  • Now the corporation faces a multi-million liability for back-dated pay claims 

Female BBC presenters who are demanding equal pay with their male colleagues want a wage hike backdated by up to six years.

The Corporation now faces a bill running into millions of pounds to right the historic salary gap, in an increasingly bitter dispute.

Last Monday, Carrie Gracie resigned as the BBC’s China editor because she was not being paid the same as the other three foreign editors, two of whom are men. There was further furore when Radio 4’s Today presenter John Humphrys made light of her claim in a private conversation, leaked to the press.

Carrie Gracie, pictured, resigned as BBC’s China editor because she was not paid the same as the other three foreign editors – two of whom are men 

Ms Gracie discovered she was paid considerably less than Washinton editor Jon Sopel

Ms Gracie discovered she was paid considerably less than Washinton editor Jon Sopel

Law firm Mishcon de Reya is advising up to 12 BBC women on the issue of equal pay. Last night the firm’s employment partner Jennifer Millins said anyone who brought a successful equal pay action against the BBC at a tribunal could be entitled to have rises backdate by up to six years to address the historical unlawful pay gap.

She added: ‘Given what we know about the substantial disparities from last summer’s pay disclosures, the liabilities for the BBC could be significant.’

Unconfirmed reports suggest that as many as 200 female staff at the BBC may have lodged pay grievances since the publication of salary details revealed a significant gulf between some of its best known male and female presenters.

A senior source at the BBC said: ‘The thing that is really worrying everyone is the sense of some big back-pay bill. In a way you have to draw a line under it, otherwise the BBC could just be in for millions of claims if you are going to pay back for all the wrongs of the past.’

The leaked comments by Humphrys included him jokingly asking North America editor Jon Sopel: ‘How much of your salary are you prepared to hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her?’

His remarks have reportedly infuriated some of the BBC’s female stars and sparked speculation that there could be a walkout. But Humphrys last night played down speculation he was under pressure, saying: ‘The bosses have been fairly understanding. They have behaved impeccably and I have no complaints about that at all.’

He said his remarks were ‘the sort of chat you have with your mate’ and added: ‘I volunteered two pay cuts over the period of the last year. In terms of the Today programme there is not a large gap any longer between me and the next best paid, who is or was Nick Robinson.’

Asked to comment on back pay, a BBC spokesman told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We are not going to be carrying out negotiations via newspapers.’



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