Mirror publisher to furlough almost 1,000 employees and cut pay

The publisher of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers is to furlough almost 1,000 employees, and its management, including the senior editorial team, will have pay slashed by a fifth.

Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, also owns hundreds of regional titles including the Manchester Evening News, as well as the Scottish Daily Record and the celebrity magazine OK!

The company has said it intends to furlough 20% of 4,700 staff – 940 – during the coronavirus crisis. Reach’s top management including the “most senior editorial team”, headed by the group editor-in-chief, Lloyd Embley, will take a 20% pay cut and all other employees will have their pay cut by 10%.

The company has also suspended bonuses this year, scrapped the dividend and will no longer be publishing financial guidance.

UK government support for workers and businesses during the coronavirus crisis

Direct cash grants for self-employed people, worth 80% of average profits, up to £2,500 a month. There are similar wage subsidies for employees.

Government to back £330bn of loans to support businesses through a Bank of England scheme for big firms. There are loans of up to £5m with no interest for six months for smaller companies.

Taxes levied on commercial premises will be abolished this year for all retailers, leisure outlets and hospitality sector firms.

Britain’s smallest 700,000 businesses eligible for cash grants of £10,000. Small retailers, leisure and hospitality firms can get bigger grants of £25,000.

Government to increase value of universal credit and tax credits by £1,000 a year, as well as widening eligibility for these benefits.

Statutory sick pay to be made available from day one, rather than day four, of absence from work, although ministers have been criticised for not increasing the level of sick pay above £94.25 a week. Small firms can claim for state refunds on sick pay bills.

Local authorities to get a £500m hardship fund to provide people with council tax payment relief.

Mortgage and rental holidays available for up to three months.

In addition, the board has “requested discussions” to defer current payments due to the pension fund. A spokesman for the company said Reach pays £4.1m per month relating to the pension fund. According to the latest annual report for 2019, Reach had a pension deficit of £295.9m and made £48.9m in payments.

“The board has agreed that all stakeholder groups should be asked to contribute to ensuring the company is in as strong a position as it can be and as a result the company has requested discussions around a deferment of current contributions to all the group pension funds,” the company said.

The company said that currently all of its print and digital publications “continue to be produced without interruption”. A number of publishers including the London financial freesheet City AM and JPI Media, the owner of the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, have suspended printing some titles.

Looking ahead, Reach pledged that “key” titles would continue to publish.

“All of our key national and regional publications will continue to operate at this vital time despite these measures and we have sought to spread the burden of these actions across all stakeholder groups,” the company said.

Jim Mullen, the chief executive of Reach, said: “It remains difficult to predict the duration and long-term impact of the crisis on our sector, so it is key we take proactive measures now on cost to protect jobs and the Reach business for the long term.”

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