A London Central Employment Tribunal decision has found that the presenting work of BBC’s Samira Ahmed on Newswatch was equal to that of Jeremy Vine on Points of View and as such their pay discrepancy was unfair.
In a victory for the NUJ and Samira Ahmed, the judgment found that despite the fact that Jeremy Vine was paid more than six times the salary of Samira Ahmed the work of both presenters was the same or broadly similar – defined as “like work”.
The BBC’s legal team argued Jeremy Vine’s presenting of Points of View relied on him having a “glint in his eye” or being “cheeky”. The Tribunal found that such abilities are difficult to be “translated into a ‘skill’ or ‘experience’ to do a job” and that any attempts of humour from Jeremy Vine “came from the script”.
The judgment also criticised the BBC for failing to “have a transparent and consistent process for evaluating and determining pay for its on-air talent”.
Samira Ahmed, who is an NUJ member, said: “I’d like to thank the tribunal judge and panel for the time and work they’ve put into considering my case. I’d also like to thank my union the NUJ, my lawyers and the many people who have supported my case for equal pay for like work and work of equal value.
“Men and women are in this together. We all want equality and fair treatment. I sought to resolve this matter quietly and internally. It was only ever about being valued for my professionalism and to be paid fairly and equally for my work as a journalist and interviewer. This is a job I’m proud to do well and I now looking forward to continuing to report on stories and not being one.”
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, welcomed the finding as a resounding victory for Samira and everyone seeking equal pay at work.
“It was an incredibly brave decision on Samira’s part to take forward this case. No one wants to battle their employer in a public tribunal hearing, but the BBC’s failure to meaningfully negotiate made legal proceedings inevitable.”
“For the BBC this became a battle over the differences as they saw it between their internal divisional silos of News and Entertainment. For the NUJ, this was simply a case of two roles that were commensurate, on two programmes that were supremely comparable, carried out by two high profile experienced presenters.”
Caroline Underhill of Thompsons Solicitors added: “This important decision is a warning shot to the BBC that complacency around pay inequity is unacceptable, and will not go unchallenged. The ball is now in the BBC’s court: they need to heed the lessons from this judgment and engage in meaningful negotiations with the NUJ to ensure genuine pay transparency, and pay equality, for all employees.
“Samira Ahmed’s legal team were Natasha Morris, Legal Officer at the NUJ, Caroline Underhill, Thompsons Solicitors and Claire Darwin, barrister from Matrix Chambers.”