No doubt you have heard about the BBC’s announcement that they intend to reduce the salaries of some of their male presenters by up to 30% to try and eradicate the gender pay gap. This is an extremely unusual step for an employer to take and may prove to be full of risks. 
The legal position is that an employer cannot impose a wage cut on their employees if they have an employment contract setting out details of their salary. Any such decision will have to be with the agreement of the employees concerned. They are not obliged to give their consent and may take legal action to prevent the change. 
The issue of fairness and equality in the workplace is a pertinent one. Indeed, the UK is one of the first countries in the world to push through gender pay reporting legislation.  
 
All businesses with 250 employees or more have to publish statutory calculations illustrating any pay gap between male and female employees.  
 
The onus is very much on employers to get their house in order. 
 
Rather than attempt to reduce the wages of their male staff, a company could opt to increase the pay of their female employees. That option will not always be financially viable as the BBC has clearly decided. 
 
If an employer reduces an employee’s salary without their consent then the employee has two options; pursue a claim for constructive dismissal or sue for compensation due to the reduction in salary. Either could prove costly for the employer. 
 
As is usually the case the best option may be for the employer and employee to sit down and try to resolve the issue amicably. 
If you have an HR issue that you would like to discuss in confidence, please give us a call on 0330 088 4352
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