BT rewards ‘pandemic heroes’ with £1,500 bonus

A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines

A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines after a year in which its workers have played a key role in keeping homeworking employees connected - Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Frontline BT workers are in line for a £1,500 bonus from the telecommunications giant in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic — despite a pay freeze.

Around 59,000 of the company’s 100,000-strong workforce will get £1,000 in cash in June and a further £500 worth of shares under its employee share scheme after three years.

The payout will cost a total of £110m and is equivalent of around 5% of its average employee salary, it said. The group is currently involved in a dispute with unions over a major restructure which could result in its first strike in many years.

The company has a big presence in Suffolk at its Martlesham site where it employs around 3,000 staff.

BT chief executive Philip Jansen said: “Our frontline colleagues and key workers have been true heroes, keeping everyone connected in this most difficult time.

“BT has delivered for our customers through the dedication of all our people, but inevitably the pandemic hit our financial performance, like that of most companies.

“In this context, we have to prioritise and I am determined that we will do everything in our power to reward our frontline colleagues.”

BT has played a key role in helping to keep Britain connected during the pandemic as many employees were asked to work from home.

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The company awarded its entire 100,000 workforce shares worth £500 for each employee last June for their efforts during the crisis.

Despite this, the company has imposed a pay freeze across the group and is involved in a bitter year-long dispute with trade unions over its plan to overhaul the business.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are voting over industrial action in a row over jobs. If they vote for the action, it would the first national strike at BT in more than 30 years.

The dispute concerns compulsory redundancies and the closure of sites, but the Martlesham site is safe under the proposals and is central to the company’s research and development plans as a "key location".

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