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BT cutting contractors' rates by a fifth and halving notice period because 'coronavirus'

Telco tells freelancers it 'isn't immune to the economic volatility and uncertainty' caused by pandemic

Exclusive BT is slashing day rates for contractors and reducing their notice period by 50 per cent due to the unpredictable nature of the economy caused by the coronavirus.

Tech freelancers-for-hire were informed of the changes by recruitment agencies on behalf of BT in recent days, and one engineer claimed the news had led to "general uproar" among the community.

The letter from BT forwarded by Pontoon – part of the Adecco group – stated that, as is the case with its customers, suppliers, and competitors, "BT isn't immune to the economic volatility and uncertainty arising from coronavirus."

"The trading conditions in our sector, like many others, are unprecedented," it continued. "We know our contractor pay rates are, in some places, higher than we can sustain. And given these challenges, we believe now's the right time to address and re-balance that.

We know our contractor pay rates are, in some places, higher than we can sustain

"After a detailed internal assessment with all areas of the business, we've decided to lower professional services contractor pay rates across our supplier base from October 2020 onwards."

Contractors were told by their agencies that BT is serving a four-week notice on the current contract and will be offering a new one at 20 per cent lower pay, despite the position and duties remaining the same, sources informed us. In addition to this, the new contracts include a fortnight's notice period rather than four weeks, as was the case.

Pontoon told all of its clients working at BT: "We appreciate that this will come as so difficult news, and whilst we would have preferred to call everyone in person, the volume of changes do not allow that. This being said the team will be doing their best to get through to each contractor over the coming days."

The Reg has decided to keep dates of the letters being sent and the different start dates for the contract undisclosed to protect our sources.

Pontoon refused to comment. A spokesperson at BT sent us this statement:

We're going through a period of immense change and investment to build a better, stronger BT for the future. As part of our business-wide modernisation programme, we are taking action to re-balance the fees paid to our professional services contractors, in a fair way, from October 2020 onwards.

A revamp of Ts&Cs for BT contractors isn't a huge surprise - many vendors are adjusting overheads where possible - but follows on from initiaitves to cut costs that BT started in 2018.

New broom, BT CEO Philip Jansen, who himself came down with COVID-19 in March, is overseeing a multi-year cost-cutting programme that involves making 13,000 staff redundant and selling off some prime real estate, all with the aim of saving £1.5bn in costs. ®

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