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BBC equal pay row could
 trigger avalanche of claims

the publicity that equal pay claims are getting at the moment is going to make a lot of people ask themselves whether they are paid equally.

Embargo for Equal Pay Day: Please do not publish until 01:00 (GMT) November 10, 2017

The row over equal pay for BBC presenters could help start an avalanche of similar claims, says leading provider of legal services and advice to businesses, ARAG, on Equal Pay Day.

The Supreme Court’s recent removal of the tribunal fees that had to be paid to make such claims, coupled with the publicity surrounding the potential, high profile case against the BBC (1), and others such as those involving major British supermarkets, could create a perfect storm for UK employers.

The number of equal pay claims received by the tribunal service dropped by 85% immediately after the introduction of tribunal fees in July 2013 and the annual number of claims is roughly a third of what it was five years ago (2).

Until the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were indirectly discriminatory and thus unlawful in July this year, it cost up to GBP£1,200 to take an Equal Pay claim to a tribunal hearing, which was clearly enough to discourage many from pursuing a claim.

“We’re not expecting all types of employment tribunal claim to shoot back up to pre-2013 levels immediately, following the Supreme Court decision,” comments Head of Underwriting & Marketing, David Haynes “But the publicity that equal pay claims are getting at the moment is going to make a lot of people ask themselves whether they are paid equally.”

The BBC recently commissioned a report into pay differences throughout the Corporation which revealed a gender pay gap of 9.3%, roughly half the national average, caused by underrepresentation of women in senior positions rather than a widespread failure to pay people equally for doing the same or equivalent work. (3)

“The gender pay issue at the BBC appears to be focussed on a relatively small number of staff in particular roles, ” continues Haynes, “but these statistics suggest that many other organisations have a much wider pay gap.”

“The media understandably focus on the very large cases involving multiple employees at high profile organisations, but these cases are less likely to have been put off by the tribunal fee regime, because the fee burden could be shared. However, there are always many more smaller or individual claims that employers may now have to face again.

ARAG’s checklist for employers to minimise the risk of gender pay issues:

Evaluate - Organisations with more than 250 employees have legal reporting requirements, but any business with more than a handful of staff should evaluate whether any jobs involve ‘equal work’.

Report - If any roles are found to entail equal work, then at least annual reporting should be set up to compare the average salaries of men and of women in equal roles.

Investigate - Sometimes differences in pay can be justified objectively but any such reasons should be recorded for future reference.

Correct - If there are pay discrepancies that cannot be objectively justified, then they must be corrected and the causes addressed to avoid a gap reopening.

“Monitoring your gender pay gap may seem like another piece of difficult or even unnecessary bureaucracy,” sums up Haynes, “but it shouldn’t be too difficult an exercise to carry out. Besides, the cost of making sure that you are paying men and women equally is nothing compared to the risk and costs of getting it wrong.”

“Both ACAS and the Equality and Human Rights Commission publish good advice for businesses to help them ensure they are rewarding all of their staff fairly and equally.”

- ends -

(1) The Guardian (October 29, 2017), BBC pay gap: women working with lawyers on potential legal action, - online - Available at: [Accessed: November 7, 2017]

(2) Ministry of Justice (2017), Tribunals and gender recognition certificate statistics quarterly: April to June 2017, - online - Available at: [Accessed: November 7, 2017]

(3) BBC News (October 4, 2017), BBC's 9% gender pay gap revealed, - online - Available at: [Accessed: November 7, 2017].

Notes to Editors

ARAG plc is part of the global ARAG Group, the largest family-owned enterprise in the German insurance industry. Founded in 1935, on the principle that every citizen should be able to assert their legal rights, ARAG now employs 4,000 people around the world and generates premium income in excess of €1.8 billion.

Operating in the UK since 2006, ARAG plc provides a comprehensive suite of ‘before-the-event’ and ‘after-the-event’ legal insurance products and assistance solutions to protect both businesses and individuals.

Rachael Wornes, Marketing Manager, ARAG UK, 0117 917 1578,
Paul Jacobs, Director, Consultable, 079 0982 1731,