Hachette UK and Bonnier Books UK furlough 10% of workers

Hachette UK and Bonnier Books UK furlough 10% of workers

Hachette UK and Bonnier Books UK have revealed they are furloughing roughly 10% of their overall workforces.

In both cases, the staff furloughed will come from right across the business, and anyone who is furloughed will receive full pay, with both Hachette and Bonnier choosing to top up furloughed staff members' salaries.

The government is providing grants for 80% of usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, until at least the end of May. Employers can choose to top up employees' salaries but there is no requirement to do so.

Hachette UK confirmed it will be furloughing roles across distribution and publishing as "a short-term measure" to mitigate losses. It is starting the process this week and it will be for a six-week period initially, with the possibility of extending the scheme depending on government guidance. 

"We will be furloughing a number of roles across both distribution and publishing, as a short-term measure we’re taking to help mitigate the loss of both orders and revenue that we will experience over the next few months," a Hachette spokesperson said. "Anyone who is furloughed will be topped up to full pay and receive their benefits for the duration."

Furloughing will take place across departments, targeting roles that are "less active in the short term" as a result of the lockdown, a spokesperson clarified, with furloughing to take place across "roughly 10%" of Hachette UK's overall workforce.

It is understood this will include the facilities team, given the Carmelite House office has shut, and, while it is anticipated more roles in distribution will be furloughed, this could also extend to those working on publishing that has been moved or events that have been cancelled. 

A Bonnier Books UK spokesperson has meanwhile confirmed it is also furloughing 10% of roles "across the business". Staff were briefed on Monday (6th April).

The spokesperson said: "The government scheme will cover 80% of the salaries of furloughed employees and as an employer we will cover the 20% shortfall to ensure that each furloughed employee continues to receive their full salary while they’re on temporary leave of absence."

Simon & Schuster UK said last week it has "no plans" to furlough staff. "This year will certainly present new challenges but we have a full and dedicated team working hard to come up with creative solutions," S&S UK's spokesperson told The Bookseller.

Last week Pan Macmillan revealed it asked higher paid staff to volunteer for a pay reduction, while employees at its distribution arm were to be furloughed, as part of measures to help “safeguard” its business during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pan Macmillan managing director Anthony Forbes Watson has taken a 50% pay cut for the next three months.