BBC worker's suicide attempt highlights importance of employer advice

BBC worker's suicide attempt highlights importance of employer advice

Reports that a BBC worker attempted suicide after the stress of being hauled before the courts as HMRC tried to reclaim tax has put focus on the financial advice that employers provide.

In recent months, hundreds of BBC presenters have been told they owe thousands in unpaid historic tax, despite staff saying they set up their own companies on the advice of the BBC.

The BBC has denied this. However, shocking new evidence suggests that one BBC worker tried to kill herself over the legal action being taken against her.

In an anonymous statement, read in evidence to MPs, she recounted: “I have always loved working for the BBC but the way they have behaved has reduced me to more than tears. It’s one of the factors that three days ago took me into my loft where I tried to hang myself.”

Others talked about the stress working under PSC agreements had caused them. Whilst this meant they enjoyed some tax relief, the BBC allegedly saved vast sums in national insurance contributions.

Reported in The Guardian, Damian Collins, the Chair of the House of Commons culture committee, said the BBC had fallen “well below” the standards expected in its treatment of staff and said he would be demanding answers from the Director General, Lord Hall.

Many presenters, who worked for the BBC in this manner, are complaining about being coerced into working in the PSC manner, criticising the financial advice they were given.

Last year, UBS released research which found that almost seven out of 10 employees would welcome some form of financial advice in the workplace.

It’s something that MBE-awarded Lynne Atkin, HR Director at Barclays, previously told HR Grapevine that employers must do.

She said that “companies should not be afraid to start to talk about the importance of financial wellbeing amongst their colleagues. We understand that money worries can weigh heavily on people’s minds, whereas good financial planning can create a real sense of security and optimism about the future.”

More pointedly, Darren Laverty, Partner at employee benefits specialist Secondsight, said that the “onus should be on the employer to ensure employees are provided with as much information and guidance as possible when it comes to their finances.”

The BBC is currently undergoing a process that will review whether they should contribute towards national insurance contributions its presenters are liable for.

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