Hmm, well,

A former TalkTalk manager is suing the telecoms giant after allegedly learning she earned 40 per cent less than male colleagues doing the same job.

Rebecca Burke, 42, was paid a basic salary of £110,000 as she helped lead the company’s cyber security programme in the wake of a high-profile data breach.

The 42-year-old, who was made redundant in May 2017, claims three other programme directors had salaries an average of 40 per cent higher and were awarded at least 50 per cent more in bonuses.

A tribunal claim has been brought against TalkTalk on the grounds it breached equal pay law and dismissed her unfairly.

The three male comparators weren’t made redundant.

Which makes it slightly difficult, no? We might argue that the worst of the four was fired, the worst of the four got the least pay before the firing. The discrimination here is?

28 comments on “Hmm, well,

  1. ” “People I trusted and respected took advantage of my hard work for two years…”

    She didn’t get a salary at all?

    “The hearing was due to start last week but will now be heard next year after Ms Burke’s barrister asked for a new tribunal panel to sit on the case.”

    Curious detail, no?

  2. We can argue whatever we like. There is a law, and a process to test if it was broken. What we should be arguing is whether we should have that law.

  3. Around 2 years in a corporate job? She was shit at it. Took some time to figure that out and a load of time to organise the firing.

    (they don’t fire, they make people redundant)

  4. You make a role redundant, not people. Well, that’s the legal bit anyway. In reality you reduce the roles from four to three, make people reapply and pick the best three.

    Unless one of the good ones accepts redundancy and walks into another job, then you’re fucked because you now have three people instead of four, and you still have the half-wit on board.

  5. At her level there would have been a sum of money offered for her to fuck off quietly, with no fuss. Didn’t look like it worked (at least the no fuss bit).

  6. Or the Times. We’re trying it out, see what the revenue is. We’re currently at about 15% per 000 of traffic than we think we should be. So, well, try more sources.

  7. The 42-year-old, who was made redundant in May 2017, claims three other programme directors had salaries an average of 40 per cent higher and were awarded at least 50 per cent more in bonuses.

    Now, it’s true that sexism still exists in the workplace (but sadly, the Benny Hill kind of sexy sexism is dying out, stationery cupboards are just for printer cartridges at my age).

    However:

    * When you’re senior enough to ask for and get a six figure basic, it’s generally expected you’re not a babe in the woods being preyed on by evil corporate overlords. (Unless you’re one of the BBC’s midering regiment of women)

    * So you should have the nous to know your worth and get paid that sum, or are basic negotiation skills not part of a programme director’s salary?

    * Despite being more than 40% cheaper than the penis-having alternatives, they let her go and kept the blokes. Probably not because she was too great a bargain.

    * Cybersecurity experts are in higher demand in the corporate and public sector spaces than hunky plumbers with rippling muscles and massive spanners are among bored housewives.

    The fact she hasn’t just shrugged and moved on to the next gig (and people who sue for discrimination rarely have something better to do) suggests she’s more of a Jen from THE IT CROWD than a Moss from THE IT CROWD.

    Speaking of Moss, it’s usually the autistic techy blokes who face real wage discrimination in the workplace, because it’s hard to ask for more dosh when you struggle with eye contact and get out-social-skilled by the laser printer. These guys practically live in server rooms and comms cabinets and keep the lights on for a relative pittance.

  8. Rob, Steve: and, of course, if you do this kind of thing this publicly, you render yourself unemployable.

  9. “Rebecca Burke, 42, was paid a basic salary of £110,000 as she helped lead the company’s cyber security programme in the wake of a high-profile data breach.” [my emphasis]

    What does that mean? That she was the note taker for the person who led the project? At £110k I’d expect someone to be leading from a very senior position and have lots of responsibility they can’t shirk.

  10. BiG – Yarp. Seems to be mostly women who do this, as well.

    Could be because British corporates are run by evil woman-hating troglodytes, but I reckon it’s more that women have less to lose.

  11. Looking at her LinkedIn she’s done a large number of 6 month- 2 year stints and jumped around a lot. I.e. people continually hire her, realise she’s shit, get rid of her and then she jumps to the next thing.

  12. Yes, short jobs. All of them of the “so it’s vertically integrated custom performance metric synergy cross-functional innovative business solutions … but, er, what do you actually do?” variety.

  13. Steve,

    “The fact she hasn’t just shrugged and moved on to the next gig (and people who sue for discrimination rarely have something better to do) suggests she’s more of a Jen from THE IT CROWD than a Moss from THE IT CROWD.

    Speaking of Moss, it’s usually the autistic techy blokes who face real wage discrimination in the workplace, because it’s hard to ask for more dosh when you struggle with eye contact and get out-social-skilled by the laser printer. These guys practically live in server rooms and comms cabinets and keep the lights on for a relative pittance.”

    One of the reasons I avoid most big places for IT is the fucking Jens that inhabit them. People with zero clue about what they’re managing who are basically parasites feeding off the fat of the big company. Almost anything that crosses their desk, they just feed down to a lead techie for estimates, updates or crisis reports. I worked for a Jen who said my estimate was too large once, so I said “OK, which part of it’s too high” and they had no answer except “it’s beyond what we have budget for”. They had no idea how to say, trim the requirements to get the costs down.

    One of the reasons I generally work in SMEs is that I don’t have to deal with these wasters.

  14. I haven’t tackled the Tele’s paywall but looking at Mel’s comment it seems that she’s more of a contractor than employee, which would also go some way to explaining the rate.

    If she was a contractor, bringing a discrimation action will open a massive can of IR35 worms.

  15. THe Mail has quite a bit more on the Panel. The Barrister tried to get them chucked off the case because they were not sympathetic to the way the claimaint wanted to define Equal Work.

    Sounds a bit like the Carrie Murphy tilting at windmills to me. I wonder if this one will behave like the BBC.

  16. So she doesn’t sound too great. Fine, fire her. But but but, if you only had her for two years – only just long enough to find her out really – and paid her less than the others during that period, well, you might just have fucked up a bit.

  17. Er, where do the contractors bill less than the employees? Is that really normal in whatever nebulous job is being done here?

  18. As a manager did she not negotiate for salary? Does that not happen at that level? I mean, I negotiated my pay when I was working as a clerk in a convenience store.

    I don’t understand this ‘equal pay’ law thing. Why is there an obligation to pay the same – even to people doing the same job at the same level of quality? You pay people what both you and they are willing to accept for the job. If she was willing to accept less – that’s her problem.

  19. BiG,

    “Er, where do the contractors bill less than the employees? Is that really normal in whatever nebulous job is being done here?”

    She’s the one claiming it was equal work. I’m pointing out its well paid for someone “helping” to lead a project

  20. In such cases, the courts should rule in favor of the womens, and demand the employers cut the men’s pay 40%.

  21. Please, she wasn’t paid 40% less: they were paid 40% more so she was paid 28% less. Journalists are typically innumerate but we shouldn’t be.
    That their bonuses were larger as a %age of their pay than hers as a %age of her pay suggests that they were better at their jobs than she was at hers.
    So she was probably eased out because she wasn’t very good.

  22. From the barristers remarks they were hoping for a bit of judicial activism here. Wanting the equal work defined as broad as possible. Still its possible Rebecca was stitched up by a peer or just pissed off someone more senior who wanted shot of her. We’ll see what juicy details emerge.

    But it’ll be interesting to know how you would go about defining equal work here. I don’t think a plain list of duties will suffice. They could be broadly the same, and still be different level jobs. My guess is that the ultimate measure in the minds of the board when they appoint someone to an important role is risk.
    The more the experience (proven track record) of people they know the lower the risk. But they’ve got to develop people too to have the experienced execs of tomorrow. If the risk of the other fellows didn’t need to be mitigated (by mentorship, further training, further experience, less risky projects, more experienced team members then by definition their roles were different levels.)

  23. @ Hallowed Be
    Good point. I’ve just finished – at the request of a friend/colleague at the request of a friendly contact of his – a small job to check some work by her staff that is parallel to the stuff I was doing 40+ years ago. So I flatly said I couldn’t charge my normal hourly rate because the job wasn’t worth that much and agreed a rate that she proposed.
    Technically my job spec had the same terms as the youngsters whose work I was checking. But I was there to spot their mistakes – I haven’t bothered to count them. The better of the lads took all my corrections (not all of which were his fault, I got very annoyed with the supplier and auditor of one set of data) on board and said he go through correcting stuff, the lass’s work was a bit sloppy. Of course they aren’t paying me the same rate as her (that would *really* piss me off).

  24. John77- True. Its just a true fact that experience is easier to monetise than potential. (because the risk is different and if employers have a risk tolerance to achieve then extra steps like hiring a john77 need to be taken) The tribunal panel members hopefully will know well the difference between potential and experience. Apart from anything else sometimes the whippers don’t snap..

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