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BT to pay staff special £1,500 COVID bonus in £88m payout

Saleha Riaz
·2-min read
BT joins other companies including supermarkets Sainsbury and Lidl in rewarding their staff. Photo: Openreach
BT joins other companies including supermarkets Sainsbury and Lidl in rewarding their staff. Photo: Openreach

BT (BT-A.L) has proposed to offer its frontline workers a special bonus of £1,500 ($2,053) to recognise their hard work to keep customers connected during the pandemic.

The offer is equivalent to about 5% of BT’s average salary, the company said in a statement, adding that it is being made despite the company freezing pay and ongoing, unresolved discussions with trade unions over its transformation and modernisation plans.

CEO Philip Jansen said: "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."

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"Our frontline colleagues and key workers have been true heroes, keeping everyone connected in this most difficult time," he added.

No change to BT’s full year financial outlook is expected as a result of this bonus payment, the company said.

BT joins other companies including supermarkets Sainsbury (SBRY.L) and Lidl in rewarding their staff. Earlier, Sainsbury's said it will give its frontline staff a 3% bonus for their efforts to serve customers during the coronavirus crisis. The payout was worth about £530 to a full-time worker.

And Lidl’s UK arm said in January it will reward its front-line workers with a one-off £200 “thank you payment,” while its office-based employees will receive £100.

Meanwhile, the Communication Workers Union plans to ballot its members about strike action following a dispute with BT management.

The CWU fears BT's modernisation plans could close up to 270 offices and lead to thousands of job cuts. Some 3,600 jobs have already been slashed in 2020 under Jansen's leadership.

BT's revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was about £16bn, down 7% "due primarily to the impact of COVID-19" the company announced earlier this year. Profit for the nine months to 31 December fell by 17%, to just under £1.6bn.

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