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JP offers staff extra day off at Christmas in exchange for pay cut

Johnston Press is offering staff an extra day’s holiday over Christmas in exchange for a salary reduction.

The regional publisher has opened the scheme to employees across the country, which will allow them to “buy” additional leave from the company.

In exchange for a successful application, staff will agree to reduce their November 2017 salary by the equivalent cost.

It follows a similar scheme, known as ‘SMART’, which was offered by JP earlier this year and allowed employees to take extra days off in exchange for the equivalent pay reduction.

Christmas tree

A memo to staff, which has been seen by HTFP, states: “Earlier this year we ran our SMART holiday scheme to enable you to buy additional holiday on top of your contracted entitlement.

“As an additional benefit this year, we are now opening a short window during which staff can request one further days’ leave to be taken over the Christmas period. In exchange, you agree to reduce your November 2017 salary by the equivalent cost.

“If anyone is on maternity leave, paternity leave or is absent because of illness, managers should make sure they are made aware that the scheme has been launched and that they are able to apply as normal.”

Staff have until 20 October to apply.

The memo adds: “Your application will then be assessed by our HR shared service centre to ensure you meet the qualifying criteria before being submitted to your management team for authorisation. Employees should expect to receive a decision by the end of October.”

Johnston Press has so far not responded to requests for further comment, but the National Union of Journalists has criticised the plan, describing it as a “clear example of management not listening to staff”.

The union says a series of NUJ chapels wrote in the summer to local managers saying that many teams did not have enough staff to cover for annual leave, maternity and paternity leave or time owed in lieu.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: “Journalists at Johnston Press are already struggling to take leave without leaving colleagues in the lurch to get titles out with a skeleton staff. This offer will do nothing to raise a festive cheer among staff.

“Indeed, it shows another failure by Johnston Press’s senior management to deal with the situation on the ground where staff find it sometimes impossible to get a day off or timed owed.”

14 comments

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  • October 13, 2017 at 8:43 am
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    This smacks of the worst Christmas cracker joke. If you are in a position with any responsibility for hitting deadlines you will still have to do the same amount of work with a day less to do it in, and take a pay cut for the privilege. Even if you can shed a day’s workload, you will only be shifting it onto your already hard-pressed and put-upon colleagues, who will see no reward for their extra effort in their pay packet. Mr Highfield might be trying to present himself as some kind of gift-bearing Santa Claus, but strip away the cheap red suit and false beard and you’ll find an entirely unreformed Scrooge.

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  • October 13, 2017 at 8:54 am
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    If a ‘top’ publisher can issue a memo which contains the expression ‘can request one further days’ leave’ when the apostrophe should be ‘day’s leave’ (singular day) they should seriously think about how far backwards in quality they have gone over the past few years. Bring back the sub-editors and the proof readers.

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  • October 13, 2017 at 9:15 am
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    So, at the time of year you most need the cash, they want you to take a pay cut.
    You’ll get a couple doing it, then the others will probably have to work more than their fair share over Xmas at an already short staffed department.
    Xmas week is a 3 day working week this year, which is tough enough to rota as it is, worse if too many take a couple of days off.
    The usual year end struggle for cash, I await for more redundancy stories. Will the company directors be leading by example?

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  • October 13, 2017 at 9:28 am
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    November was always the time when JP launched a money saving drive.
    Freelance budgets were the traditional target. Now it seems staff are getting the same treatment.
    Given the small saving this is likely to produce, it suggests something bad about finances…..

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  • October 13, 2017 at 10:00 am
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    At my old JP paper I began to hate all holidays. Not enough staff cover. Giving an extra day off makes it worse, but not for Highfield and pals. This stinks of financial desperation.

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  • October 13, 2017 at 10:22 am
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    If a big publisher like JP gives the impression it is so desperate to save money then goodness knows what the future will be like. As others have said it also puts an extra burden on those who stay at work without them getting a single penny extra. I miss journalism which I started to practice in 1965 but I certainly could not bear the thought of the burdens that short-staffed newsrooms now have to bear.

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  • October 13, 2017 at 10:26 am
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    The ironic thing is, at most JP titles staff have holiday days and lieu days stacking up with no hope of clearing them before Christmas.

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  • October 13, 2017 at 10:47 am
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    Exactly “old timer” – could not agree more. It is several years since I “retired” from full-time journalism ending my days with JP. In the last year of my full-time working life I kept a log of my hours – the 1st time I had done so. I worked the equivalent of 2/3 days extra a month without any extra money and in the last period was “promoted” to the news desk but expected to carry out the work without any extra money. I generalise but the impression given is too many editors won’t argue with more senior management on behalf of their staff.

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  • October 13, 2017 at 12:41 pm
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    Love it! We won’t pay any extra for the contracted ‘additional hours as and when required’, which we all know is expected every day, but you can instead pay us to take that time back again!

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  • October 13, 2017 at 1:43 pm
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    For once, words fail me. To quote the thumb-texting yoof of today…WTF?
    Still, I wonder if Christen Ager-Hanssen will don a red suit and white beard (he is from the frozen North after all), as opposed to the JP rednose and squeaker, and bring Yuletide cheer to JP?

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  • October 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm
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    Ashley must be havin’ a laugh! Lets all get him a Mickey Mouse watch for Christmas!

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  • October 13, 2017 at 5:34 pm
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    Presumably the next obvious step is a permanent holiday….without pay

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  • October 14, 2017 at 10:36 am
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    And to think, when I first started with the company (one of the regionals that was engulfed by Emap) we used to get a Christmas bonus that was worth a day’s pay… We got time and a half AND a day off in lieu for our bank holidays.

    Do the top table get Christmas bonuses I wonder?

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  • October 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm
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    Ah yes SMART holidays! Where you could apply for 5 extra days holiday a year. Where you, as an employer give back your pay to the company. Great, then it became dependent on targets hit for sales staff, but no criteria for editorial staff (as far as I know). I’m out of this farce of a company, and now with another “main player” where I will be buying my 5 days next year with no criteria. The company still benefits from receiving my pay back and I get to play more golf. Thank God I’m out of JP!!

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