In the news ... BT seeks flexible cost savings

British Telecom is offering staff the option of taking a year's holiday on reduced pay as it cuts costs to stem heavy losses.

BT: offers staff a year's holiday on reduced pay
BT: offers staff a year's holiday on reduced pay

The telecoms giant is asking staff to take an entire year off in return for 25 per cent of their salary, as well as offering one-off £1,000 payments to entice staff to go part-time and allowing parents to work only during school term-times. The moves are designed to cut costs without the need for more redundancies. The firm has already announced 15,000 posts are to go from its 100,000-strong workforce on top of similar cuts last year.

The reaction?

The news was heavily covered across the UK's major news outlets. A BT spokesperson told the BBC the move represented an 'extremely progressive way of managing costs during a recession'. The general reaction has been more positive than BA's recent suggestion that staff should forgo a month's wages, largely because the BT proposals cut costs but seem designed to benefit staff. The scheme was partially welcomed by unions.

Who are the PR players?

Peter Morgan is BT's group director of comms and the firm uses Brunswick for its financial PR. The firm recently revamped its PR agency roster, bringing in Porter Novelli to sit with Fishburn Hedges, Kazoo and Lewis.

What happens next?

BT has already announced a huge programme of job cuts, but these flexible working ideas have helped portray the firm as being keen to limit redundancies wherever possible. The obvious next step is the level of material cost savings this move will bring. With a first quarter loss of £1.3bn to address, the group needs to cut back significantly, but tackling these issues by being flexible with workers has generated some rare positive coverage.

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