Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Furloughed UK staff return to work

In the UK, major publishers are planning for furloughed staff to return to work, with most saying they have no plans to make redundancies, reports the Bookseller.

As previously reported, UK publishers including HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette and Bonnier furloughed a number of workers under a program which saw the UK government provide grants for 80% of usual monthly wage costs, capped at £2500 (A$4500) a month.

According to the Bookseller, the majority of publishing staff are now returning to work as the government’s Job Retention Scheme is scaled back, with employers expected to make a 25% contribution to furloughing costs from 1 August.

HarperCollins UK announced that all its staff had been brought back from furlough, following a ‘better than expected period during the lockdown’, while Simon & Schuster UK said the ‘majority’ of the 10% of employees will have returned to work this week, with the company ‘in a strong position’ despite the crisis.

Hachette UK said most of its staff had returned to work by the end of June, with less than 2% of staff remaining on furlough in July. Similarly, Penguin Random House UK are expected to keep some staff furloughed but only until the end of July. Meanwhile, Pan Macmillan—which announced a voluntary pay cut for higher paid staff, while furloughing a handful of publishing workers—said the pay cut will end this month.

Atlantic managing director Will Atkinson said the publisher used the furlough scheme ‘reasonably heavily’ in April and May, but staff would be back in July for ‘a big autumn push’. ‘We’ve managed our cash resources as carefully as we could for the last 12 weeks, we’re looking pretty solid at the moment,’ said Atkinson. ‘We need to get our autumn plans absolutely nailed down, you can only do that with everyone’s shoulder to the wheel, so that’s what we’re doing. Furloughing has made a difference in terms of outlay, but we need to move onto a different phase now.’


Category: International news