Grades and pay bands set for overhaul

Generic pay slip Managers want straightforward approach to pay

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By this time next year, staff should know where they sit within a new hierarchy and what the BBC thinks is the right rate of pay for the job they do.

Existing grades and pay bands will be scrapped as the BBC introduces a simpler framework in October 2013 that aims to bring clarity and simplicity where confusion and convolution currently reign.

The BBC employs around 20,000 people who make content or who support the making of content; they go by 5000 different job titles.

Some people share a title with others who have completely different roles, responsibilities and remuneration; some do the same job as people with designations they hardly recognise.

All of them slot into more than 20 grades in a way that can best be described as haphazard.

Start Quote

All the inequalities between internal roles make it difficult to go to the market to determine a fair rate of pay”

End Quote Andrew Erhardt-Lewis Pay and Grading Programme Manager

'How can we build transparency around pay with so much diversity around?' questions Andrew Erhardt-Lewis, pay and grading programme manager. 'All the inequalities between internal roles make it difficult to go to the market to determine a fair rate of pay.'

More straightforward

Managers have been asking for a more straightforward approach to pay for some time; they want clarity over how jobs are matched to grades and what pay corresponds to each level.

Staff, meanwhile, would seem to welcome a more obvious pathway to promotion. According to the latest staff survey results, 61% of staff don't understand what they need to do to advance their careers at the BBC, while 76% feel that career progression here is not based on a fair and transparent process.

The ambition is to place people into seven or eight 'job communities' based on the type of work they do rather than where they do it. These might include journalism, technology, content making and business support. There are expected to be only six grades in the new structure, which will not be division-specific in anticipation of George Entwistle's division-free world.

Erhardt-Lewis believes it will encourage people to look sideways as well as up for their next career move.

Grade obsessed

'A lot of people here define themselves by their title and not by the job they do,' Erhardt-Lewis considers. 'And there are some people here who are so obsessed with their grade that they turn down what others would regard as a promotion because the grade is not where they think it should be.'

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A lot of people here define themselves by their title and not by the job they do ”

End Quote Andrew Erhardt-Lewis

His BBC People team are asking for managers to help. 'In the past when we've looked at pay structures it's always been an HR-led process,' says Erhardt-Lewis. 'This time it's the business that says it needs fixing, and HR is facilitating the change.'

At a series of four-hour workshops - which started in September and will continue until early November - around 400 managers from all corners of the corporation are 'stripping back to the bones' every role in their area. They are pinning down the skills and competencies that each requires and grading them according to the new career levels.

'They will help us define an entry-level person, right up to a senior manager,' says Erhardt-Lewis, adding that the new levels will recognise creative, editorial and technical expertise as well as more traditional leadership skills.

The anomalies of the current system were apparent from the first workshop. 'We found people from different parts of the BBC called assistant producers. They had different grades, but in reality were doing the same job.'

The conclusions of the first series of workshops will be validated by another set of managers early next year.

Go to market

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We will go to the market to find out the rate of pay for each kind of job”

End Quote Andrew Erhardt-Lewis

Only then will the issue of fair pay be addressed. 'We will go to the market to find out the rate of pay for each kind of job,' says Erhardt-Lewis. 'We will look at whether the rate is affordable as well as at the market demands for specialist skills. It will take a while.'

He accepts that not everyone will be happy with their place in the new structure.

'We need to be able to objectively justify why people fall under certain levels,' he explains. 'There will be some very complex issues to work through.'

Despite being a DQF proposal, the new approach is not designed to make savings, and pay will not be taken away from anyone as a result.

'There is no hidden agenda,' Erhardt-Lewis insists. 'This is the start of a big cultural change and we need acceptance and support on all levels.'

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