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Workplace Issues Today: New restructuring idea may prevent more layoffs in Britain

Britain’s largest telephone company, BT, home to the famous red phonebooths, made a startling staff announcement this week, as it looks to avoid compulsory redundancies and further layoffs (BT has already laid off 15,000 this year, a number that may well double in the next 12 months). Instead, BT has offered employees the option of switching companies for a month or more, during which they will work and receive pay from a competitor but still receive benefits from BT. At this point, BT is taking volunteers only, but has said they would be willing to force people to ‘go on loan’ if necessary. Unions seem to be generally understanding of the plan, and will likely endorse it if it does reduce layoffs. Other employee options, all voluntary for now, include unpaid vacations, reductions to half-time, or working without pay.

See BT to minimize redundancies by lending staff to competitors,” by Elizabeth Judge, The Australian, Jun 19 2009 (JKW)

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