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A report by the National Audit Office shows the BBC is ahead of its competitors on pay transparency and addressing the gender pay gap.
The BBC has taken “significant steps” to improve the consistency, transparency and fairness of its staff pay and working practices and is well ahead of other organisations on pay transparency and the gender pay gap, according to a report from the National Audit Office.
The report said the BBC had narrowed its gender pay gap from 9.3% in 2017 to 7.6% in 2018 and had set itself a “challenging” gender pay gap of plus or minus 3% by 2020. It added that staff had been able to raise concerns about past pay and that transparency on pay had improved, both internally and externally.
Since 2017 the BBC has published the salaries of all senior managers and on-air staff and freelancers earning over £150,000 in PSB in £10,000 bands – something that showed a large gap between the pay of female and male presenters and resulted in the resignation of former China editor Carrie Gracie. For its next annual report, it will publish the figures in £5,000 bands. The BBC also publishes the ratio of both the Director General’s and executive directors’ earnings to BBC staff median earnings and its pay gaps for other characteristics, including race, disability and part/full-time staff.
The NAO says wide-ranging reforms between 2015 and 2018 aimed at standardising and simplifying the BBC’s workforce management for public service broadcasting (PSB) employees have improved consistency in job structures and pay and terms of employment. This includes a new job framework for staff, including senior managers which involved 5,000 job titles being grouped into 600 jobs across six pay bands. The report says: “This was a considerable achievement to move away from managers having discretion over pay and allowances, to establishing a centrally controlled, benchmarked and market-informed approach.”
The framework has resulted in 9% of public service broadcasting staff being in jobs with pay ranges higher than the market median, 87% being in jobs with pay ranges in line with the market median and 4% having pay ranges lower than the market median.
However, the NAO said more oversight is needed of costs and savings involved in the reforms and says reforms relating to the BBC’s commercial subsidiaries is less advanced than in PSB.
The report also talks about the cultural challenges associated with implementing reforms to scheduling and working patterns, including replacing complex rules on flexible working, with a simpler, consistent approach. The NAO says unions have expressed concerns that not all managers had bought into the reforms yet and adds that there was some nervousness about the changes.