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BT opens 'voluntary job leavers' scheme for merging Enterprise and Global units

Something something £100M cost savings, something something staying competitive

Exclusive BT is launching a voluntary redundancy program for the merging Enterprise and Global divisions – something of an inevitability since the £100 million cost-cutting move was confirmed in December.

In a message to all "eligible" colleagues operating in the newly created BT Business division, the former British state monopoly didn't reveal the headcount reduction target nor confirm if it will move onto compulsory job cuts if requisite numbers aren't met.

The slightly tone-deaf message from Seetal Bhatti, BT Business Integration Design Lead, said integrating the units was a "brilliant opportunity" for "customers, partners and shareholders, but for colleagues too."

However she added: "To stay competitive and give us the best starting point to redesign a smaller more efficient unit, we need to act now to simplify our business. And, ultimately, we will end up with fewer colleagues in BT Business than we have right now in Enterprise and Global combined.

"During big moments of change like this, it's human nature to take stock and think about personal priorities. Some people wish to spend more time with families, some want to learn new skills and others will be considering new opportunities elsewhere. We opening up a UK voluntary paid leaver scheme to eligible colleagues as one possible option for those interested in leaving."

A source at BT told us that employees operating in functions including finance, service, technical design and project management are among those eligible for voluntary redundancy. Account managers and sales folk are not, at least not at this stage.

BT Business will be led by Bas Burger, who currently heads up BT Global. The integrated divisions will manage a portfolio that includes fixed line and IP voice, unified comms, mobile, networking, security, cloud, IT and managed services. Enterprise and Global respectively offered these products to 1.2 million UK and international customers.

The option for those who want to jump willingly opened on February 28 and closes March 14. It's quite a quick turnaround process with the leaving date set for the end of April.

"The earlier you apply, the sooner we can consider your application," Bhatti said. The volume of funding means only a limited number of people will be offered voluntary redundancy and BT said it will be quite precise about the people with skills it doesn't want to lose.

"As usual, any leaver payment is subject to continued good performance," she added.

What are the terms being offered to impacted staff? One month's pay for every year's service, capped at 12 months of salary. Notice period will be taken from the dates of the application.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said in January it was watching developments at BT with interest. The union settled a nationwide strike dispute with the company at the end of last year over pay rises for tens of thousands of BT employees.

It previously said that both of BT's two business units appeared to be "top-heavy" and it expected "headcount rationalization ... is likely to be focused on middle management."

In a statement to The Register, BT said: "By creating a single, more efficient unit, BT Business will be focused on B2B growth," and "reducing duplication" will lead to the £100 million of cost savings.

"We've always said we will reduce the size of BT Group over time and will always use natural rates of attrition and voluntary paid leaver schemes in the first instance as a way to do that," BT added.

In the nine months to December 31, BT reported revenue declines of 5 percent for BT Enterprise to £3.692 billion, and a 2 percent drop in Global to £2.474 billion.

BT embarked on its grand expense purge in 2018 when it announced it would relieve 13,000 staff of their duties and shut 90 percent of real estate. That program was expanded last year. ®

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