Thousands of employees are expected to leave the broadcaster and take advantage of severance packages worth two years’ salary, up to a maximum of £150,000, under a voluntary scheme introduced in the summer. Staff are entitled to one month’s pay for each year of service up to a maximum of 12 months, or 24 months if they joined before 2013.
The redundancy programme was brought in as a cost-cutting measure as the corporation tries to cope with a sharp fall in TV licence sales and £125million in extra coronavirus-related costs.
Insiders said there had been a flood of redundancy applications from long-serving staff who believe it might be the last chance to claim a six-figure pay-out.
A BBC spokesman said: “This process will help ensure the BBC meets the challenges of a fast-changing media environment within its financial parameters.”
Ministers are drawing up plans to cap exit payments from public sector bodies at £95,000 and the BBC confirmed it expected to be affected by the cap in its recently-published annual report.
The severance bill was already soaring before the latest round of redundancies.
The annual report revealed it paid out £23.3million on redundancy settlements to 331 staff in 2019-20, up from £17.8million the previous year. The average pay-out was £70,000 but 85 staff received more than £100,000.
READ MORE: BBC to blow ‘nearly £300k’ on PR chief to help save its licence fee
The £150,000 cap was introduced in 2013 after a public outcry over excessive settlements, including £1million to former deputy director-general Mark Byford.
George Entwistle received a £470,000 pay-out after resigning as director-general during the Jimmy Savile scandal, having been in the job for just 54 days.
New director-general Tim Davie, who took over from Lord Hall last month, has vowed to slash staff numbers to reduce costs and make the broadcaster’s news operation more efficient.
He told MPs: “I do not think we need all the staff we have. What is not sustainable is for us just to keep recruiting.”
His comments came after it emerged the corporation’s headcount went up from 19,231 to 19,572 in 2019/20 with the number of senior managers rising from 250 to 253.
The corporation’s annual report revealed 106 senior managers earn more than the Boris Johnson’s £150,000 annual salary while 76 of its on-air talent are also on a better wage than the PM despite pledges to reduce costs.
A BBC spokesman said: “Some measures are not going in the right direction.
Bosses have been told to make savings of £125 million this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and have announced a swathe of job cuts in its news division.
Mr Davie said he expected stars to work at the BBC for lower pay than at competitors but said it was a “punchy” market.
The new director-general earned £642,000 last when he was boss of BBC Studios, which is not funded by the licence fee and will be taking a pay cut this year.
Total board and executive committee pay totalled £5.8 million – up from £5.4 million the previous year.