BT is to give frontline staff a one-off bonus worth up to £1,500 in recognition of their contribution during the pandemic.
Lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures meant people were increasingly dependent on their broadband connection for work, entertainment, and communication. BT engineers and contact centre staff were among those designated kay worker status to reflect this importance.
Nearly 60,000 staff will be eligible for the payment and will receive £1,000 immediately and £500 in shares over a three-year period. BT says this amounts to 5% of the average frontline worker salary.
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“BT has made a massive contribution to the national cause over the past year: we’ve supported the NHS, families and businesses, and avoided the use of redundancy or furlough in our response to the pandemic,” said BT CEO Philip Jansen. “Our frontline colleagues and key workers have been true heroes, keeping everyone connected in this most difficult time.
“BT has delivered for our customers through the dedication of all our people, but inevitably the pandemic hit our financial performance, like that of most companies. In this context, we have to prioritise and I am determined that we will do everything in our power to reward our frontline colleagues.”
The bonus comes despite BT freezing pay across the company and comes amid unresolved discussions with trade unions about a proposed restructure. Under the plans, BT will vacate its London St Paul headquarters in favour of a new head office and base its operations at around 30 sites across the UK.
It is hoped the changes will save £1.3 billion, allow the more streamlined company to react more rapidly to market trends, and means it can get closer to customers. However, it will also involve the loss of 13,000 jobs, mainly in back office and middle management roles, with new positions created in engineering and customer service.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents 45,000 BT staff, is to ballot members on strike action in the next few weeks.
BT clearly hopes its “generous offer” will help alleviate the threat of the first national industrial action at the company for more than three decades.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.