Samira Ahmed, presenter of BBC’s Newswatch, brought an equal pay claim before the Central London Employment Tribunal against the BBC. In the Equality Act 2010, men and women have a right to equal pay for equal work. This is implied into a contract as a sex equality clause and ensures that in all contracts of employment, women are not treated on less favourable terms.
In her claim, Ms Ahmed argued that from October 2012 to present, she had been paid considerably less than her male colleagues, notably comparing her work to that of Jeremy Vine’s as a presenter of Points of View from 2008-2018. Ms Ahmed was paid £440 per programme, Jeremy Vine £3,000.
Believing she did equal work, Ms Ahmed claimed that the sex equality clause was engaged, and her contract ought to be modified and her pay increased. In a unanimous decision the court agreed. Despite the BBC’s attempts to argue the contrary, the court ruled both Points of View and Newswatch were factual programmes that lasted 15 minutes long, and both required a similar level of input from their respective presenters.
However, clutching at straws, one of the most comical things to come out of this case is the BBC’s justification that Jeremy Vine deserved to be paid considerably more because he needed to present Points of View with a ‘glint in his eye’, and a ‘cheeky’ person. Confused? So were we, and thankfully the court too failed to understand what this meant, let alone how it translated into a desirable skill that required such a price tag. They certainly aren’t qualities that spring to mind when I think of Jeremy Vine…
So how does a case about Jeremy Vine’s broadcasting skills become relevant to the road haulage industry? Historically the transport industry – like the legal profession – was male dominated but both have become more diverse by the graft and grit of some fantastically talented and trail blazing women. One such trail blazer instructed Backhouse Jones to represent her company in a fraudulent claim against the company with a phrase that has passed into Backhouse Jones folklore – “it’s not the principle its the money!”. In the Ahmed case it was the principle but whichever way your company looks at unequal pay do remember it is the principle and the money.