Growing numbers of journalists on furlough

Posted on: April 1, 2020 by Claire Meadows

Growing numbers of journalists throughout the UK have been placed on furlough as the Covid-19 crisis deepens for the media industry.

JPI Media, owner of the Yorkshire Post and Scotsman titles, has announced it is putting 60 journalists on furlough – around ten per cent of its editorial workforce – and cutting the salaries of those who continue working by up to 15 percent.

PA has announced a total of 39 sports journalists and five racing journalists will be put on paid leave under the Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.

And the majority of City AM staff are to be put on furlough and the digital edition suspended in the latest measures to protect the title.

Employees of JPi Media were told this morning (Wednesday, April 1) of plans to safeguard jobs by reducing staff costs as the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic continues.

JPI chief executive David King announced that 250 sales staff and around 100 other employees including editorial will be put on furlough for at least three weeks but most likely for two months or longer.

Employees who remain at work will receive a temporary pay reduction for three months from April to June. Anyone earning under £18,000 will not receive a reduction in pay. Other staff will have no reduction of their first £18,000 earned, a ten per cent reduction on earnings between £18,000 and £40,000, and a 15 per cent reduction after that.

The chief executive and the board of directors will all take a 20 per cent cut on their entire salary.

In a message to staff, he said: “As you are probably aware, the local and regional newspaper industry has seen a sudden and steep reduction in advertising order volumes which is having a very significant impact on our revenues.

“In addition, newspaper circulation revenues have been adversely hit by store closures and lockdown restrictions. Our print contract customers are similarly affected by reduced newspaper sales volumes.

“To support the business and safeguard jobs during this uncertain period we need to make difficult decisions to control costs and preserve cash.

The publisher last week  suspended 12 local print titles, including in Bedfordshire, Sussex and the North East, to cope with the pandemic.

At PA 39 sports journalists and five racing journalists will be put on paid leave under the coronavirus job retention scheme.

Twenty-two sports journalists will continue to work for the news agency. The PA wire news operation is not affected.

Senior executives at the group have agreed to cut their salaries by 30 per cent.

PA Media Group’s head of HR told staff: “Acting now will help us reduce the prospect of major job losses and retain our existing talent for when business returns to some normality in the future.”

The majority of staff at free London title City AM are to be put on furlough and the digital edition suspended.

Staff who continue to work will be paid 80 per cent of their salary, the same as the Government scheme for furloughed workers.

Regional publisher Newsquest has already announce that a significant number of staff are on furlough including an estimated 65 editorial staff.