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The BBC has failed to live up to its duty of advancing equality of opportunity by paying far less to women working in comparable jobs to men, according to a report by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
It calls for a more transparent pay structure in order for the BBC to repair its reputation on equal pay. It states that publication of salaries has helped to improve equality for those earning over £150,000 and says similar transparency is now needed across the board.
The report also calls for substantial improvements to “its flawed grievance processes” to encourage women to come forward with their concerns about pay.
In addition the report covers the BBC’s policy of engaging presenters via Personal Service Companies (PSCs) from 2007–2012, saying it caused “life-altering financial and personal consequences for many presenters”. It highlights that many presenters are facing liabilities of hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid income tax and national insurance contributions as a result.
While it praises the BBC’s decision to launch a grievance process under the supervision of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) as “a welcome step” in establishing whether the BBC should bear some liability for unpaid NICs, it calls on the BBC to take urgent action to improve the way it deals with taxation of its freelance employees.
The report says the equal pay issues and those around PSCs and a failure to take proactive steps to address them has resulted in “a crisis of trust which urgently needs to be addressed by the corporation”.
On the issue of Personal Service Companies, “Jordan Marshall, Policy Development Manager of freelance body IPSE, said: “The BBC’s handling of the tax affairs of its presenters has been shambolic and is a direct result of crude and unworkable government tax policies.
“This episode particularly demonstrates the folly of government’s changes to IR35 legislation.
“The BBC, faced with the impossible task of having to make thousands of IR35 determinations with the help of the flawed CEST tool, simply declared many presenters to be self-employed. This blanket decision unleashed the chaos which the Committee has condemned.
“This debacle highlights that the tax system is outdated and inherently complex. We need a system that provides more clarity for individuals and properly reflects the way people work in the modern economy. It is time we had a proper independent review to examine how we deal with this complex issue, rather than tinkering at the edges which will only lead to further confusion.”