An independent publisher has extended the furlough leave of 170 staff for a further month and hinted at a possible future restructuring of the business.
Tindle Newspapers has placed 60pc of its workforce on furlough under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme, which sees the government pay 80pc of wages.
The furlough period was originally intended to end on 31 May but in a letter to staff, chief executive Danny Cammiade confirmed that those staff already on the scheme would now remain on it until the end of June.
Danny also warned staff that “bigger challenges are to come” and that in future the company “may not be structured in the future as we were pre-COVID 19″.
In the letter, which has been seen by HTFP, Danny praised the “high standard” of local reporting across the group’s titles during the pandemic.
“As I am sure you will have seen we continue to publish our paid for portfolio as normal albeit with very limited advertising and reduced pagination,” he wrote.
“Sales, whilst holding up in some areas, generally reflect the stay at home instruction aligned to the lockdown, which is disappointing as the standard of local reporting and newspaper presentation remains high.
“It is a compliment to everybody that a number of stories originated from our journalists have subsequently been picked up by the national media.”
Danny said it was too early to say what might happen after the pandemic but warned that restructuring may need to take place.
“So far we are pleased and grateful of the steps taken along with the support given but we also know that bigger challenges are to come and we may not be structured in the future as we were pre-COVID 19,” he wrote.
“Whatever happens we will be clear in our communication, open as to the reasons why any change is necessary and, as important, listen to the views of all.”
Danny said he anticipated the company would be “clearer on our likely approach” during the course of this month and intended to communicate directly “any proposed changes” by the month’s end.
In the letter Danny also asked those on furlough to take at least some of their annual holiday entitlement for the period 1 April to 30 June while on furlough.
“On furlough you are accruing statutory holiday, so for most full-time people that will be 25% of 28 days – 7 days,” he said.
“You will need to commit to this and confirm with your most senior manager that you are doing so, setting out the dates. You will be paid for the holiday period, in full on the next possible pay day.
“We will not guarantee the timings of individual holiday requests for those staff that have not taken a proportion of their holiday. This is to ensure we are properly resourced post the Covid-19 crisis.”
HTFP has approached Tindle Newspapers for further comment.