Following news late last year that many BBC freelancers would be moved onto full employment contracts, some of the BBC’s highest-paid stars have reportedly hit out at the move, which could result in as much as a 25% cut in take home pay. The removal of many Personal Service Company contracts was instigated after a Deloitte review of Corporation pay and employment status found hundreds of freelancers potentially avoiding tax.
The Telegraph reported this week that stars such as Jeremy Paxman and Fiona Bruce “will not take this lying down”, and are challenging the terms of the new arrangements.
An agent told the newspaper:
“The BBC’s angle is that it has all got to be cost-neutral to them. Our angle as agents is that it’s got to be cost-neutral to the client – that is where they are going to hit an impasse.
“A lot of us agents are getting together to present a united front. One thing that we are agreed on is we are not taking this lying down on behalf of our clients.”
In response, a BBC spokesperson said:
“If an individual is deemed employed this simply means that tax, National Insurance and any benefit deductions such as pension will be made by the BBC, rather than the personal service company, and will be deducted from gross pay as it is for all employees.”
It is understood a “sliding scale” approach is being adopted, with minimum employment rights available for on-air talent willing to take a 13% pay cut, and a more generous package including a BBC pension on offer for those taking a 25% reduction.