Penguin Random House UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon has confirmed to staff that the company’s redundancy terms across its London sites are four weeks’ pay per year of service.
The confirmation was given in a note to employees, alongside a Q&A intended to address concerns expressed by staffers over their terms and conditions. Weldon did not address the issue of any cap to the number of years on which a redundancy figure will be calculated.
Redundancy terms were a central issue in the publisher’s recent derecognition of the National Union of Journalists and Unite for collective bargaining. Negotiations between unions and management to reach a new house agreement which would apply across all Penguin Random House’s merged businesses had stalled over PRH’s reluctance to specify uniform redundancy terms that would apply to all staff.
Staff at Penguin are eligible for four weeks pay per year of service, with no cap to that figure. Staff at Random House have since the merger been awarded four weeks pay per year of service with a cap of 12 years, meaning a discrepancy between the offer to the different employees.
The Q&A, published on PRH's intranet, addresses issues such as the purpose of a collective agreement between a company and union, and the specifics of redundancy terms as given above. It emphasises to staff: “At no point have we proposed to change anyone’s redundancy terms, or to apply statutory redundancy terms. We have no plans for any programmes of redundancy.” It also reiterates the point that employees' contractual terms and conditions will continue as before.
The Q&A spells out the implications for employees of being without union recognition for collective bargaining. Collective pay negotiations will cease, the Q&A confirms. It says, “We will still continue to review and uplift pay annually”, but does not specify whether the same pay increment will apply to all workers or whether pay rises will be tailored individually. It notes: “Previously the union could agree a change to your terms and conditions on your behalf. Going forward, we would need to consult with you individually around any proposed changes."
PRH reassures: “We remain absolutely committed to being an open and responsible employer and any questions and concerns can still be raised directly with Tom Weldon via the Staff Forum.”
Answering the question: “Will I lose out as a result of this? Does this mean we are going to get paid less?” PRH management answers: “No. Penguin Random House operates in a competitive market and we need to make sure that our terms and conditions can attract and retain the most talented and creative people."
It adds: “Transworld has never operated with a union agreement and is a thriving, friendly and hugely successful part of the business."
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