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Sunday, 6 May 2018

BBC Bosses Asked Pregnant Presenter to Work on Due Date


BBC bosses asked a heavily pregnant presenter to work on the day her baby was due, the High Court has heard.

Joanna Gosling, 47, a regular BBC News presenter for more than 20 years, also told the court that the BBC threatened to cut her pay after she returned from maternity leave.

Despite her years fronting BBC programmes, Gosling is not employed directly by the national broadcaster. As a non-employee she said she was not eligible for maternity pay, holiday pay, sick pay or pension and is on a contract which means she could be sacked "without reason".

Breaking down in tears, Ms Gosling told the High Court: "I have always felt there was a two-tier system for those working at the BBC, whereby some were looked after with full staff and benefits and others had no status or security. Being in the second camp did not foster any sense of belonging.

"If a staff member gets pregnant, they don't have to hide it for fear they might lose their work. My periods of time off for the birth of each of my three children were 12 weeks, nine weeks and 13 weeks because I could not afford to take longer off unpaid."

She later told how in 2001, when pregnant with her first child, she was called by somebody running the news rota saying as they couldn't find cover she was needed for cover on her due date.

In 2007, when pregnant with her third child, BBC bosses told her they wanted to sever her contract and start a new one, on a much cheaper rate, on her return.

Given the tenuous terms of her non-employment, Ms Gosling said she felt "vulnerable" being pregnant and had "no choice" but accept the deal put to her.

The BBC, you might remember, is facing serious questions over the creative methods it employs to avoid paying income tax and NI contributions. Instead of employing "talent" directly, it pays them via a third-party personal services company. Such an arrangement allows the BBC to avoid PAYE and NI liability for the individual in question, even though they are effectively in employment.

Gosling, David Eades and Tim Willcox are currently challenging tax demands from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) at a specialist tribunal hearing in London.

The hearing is due to end later this month.

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