Cases in the News: Equal pay – Samira Ahmed faces the BBC in Employment Tribunal

This week saw the start of a five day hearing of the claim brought BBC Presenter Samira Ahmed against her employer.

Award-winning journalist Samira Ahmed is arguing that she was being paid one-sixth of what Jeremy Vine was being paid for a similar role.

It is understood that the BBC is now facing more than a dozen other legal cases from female members of staff who believe that they were unlawfully paid less than comparable male colleagues.

Ahmed believes that she has been underpaid by hundreds of thousands of pounds since she began hosting the BBC Newswatch programme in 2012.

Ahmed states that she was paid £440 per episode for Newswatch, while Jeremy Vine was paid £3,000 per episode to present Points of View, a similar audience feedback programme.

The BBC’s legal team are arguing that the two presenters were not doing similar work, while Vine’s fee was reduced to £1,300 in January 2018, according to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

This issue of unequal pay was highlighted by the BBC’s gender pay gap report in 2017.  Equal pay legislation allows claims to be brought by employees if they can show they were paid less than a male colleague for doing the same, or comparable, work.

The BBC already accepted that Samira Ahmed was underpaid by up to 50 per cent in comparison with male colleagues for work she undertook on Radio 3 and Radio 4, promising to make up the difference.

Prior to the tribunal, Ahmed said: “I have a sense of pride working for a public service broadcaster which seeks to represent the diversity of Britain and its licence-fee payers. On the back of my BBC ID card are written the BBC values, which include ‘we respect each other and celebrate our diversity’ and ‘we take pride in delivering quality and value for money.

“I just ask why the BBC thinks I am worth only a sixth of the value of the work of a man for doing a very similar job.”