LONDON (Reuters) – The head of Britain’s biggest telecoms firm BT <BT.L> said he would donate his salary to health workers for at least six months and award a pay rise to his frontline staff who are maintaining broadband networks during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Philip Jansen, one of Britain’s richest executives from his time overseeing the flotation of payments processor Worldpay, also said the company would not make any job cuts related to the health crisis and maintain all pay for at least three months.
Companies across Britain, big and small, have been forced to turn to the government to pay their staff as the pandemic cuts through vast swathes of the economy. BT said it would not need the scheme and would pay all staff for at least three months.
“This is an unprecedented situation and I want to give our people some certainty about the months ahead,” Jansen said. “This period requires sacrifices from us all, and I want our people to know we are all in this together.”
Jansen, who tested positive for COVID-19 in early March, makes around 100,000 pounds ($123,000) a month. He will give his salary to a charity helping the national health service and small businesses in his local community.
In the top job since February 2019, he was brought in to help BT build nationwide gigabit fixed and mobile networks for the future while trying to shore up revenue and earnings in the short term.
He inherited a major restructuring programme from his predecessor Gavin Patterson that included 13,000 job losses. With a history that dates back to 1846, the group now employs more than 100,000.
BT said the transformation programme would continue but it would retrain and reassign people where possible. Those who normally work in retail are already being redeployed to help customers.
The company said in October that around 6,200 jobs had been removed in 18 months.
A previous commitment to make an award of 500 million pounds worth of shares to all employees will also go ahead. Frontline staff will get an annual pay increase of 1.5% from July 1 while managers will not receive an annual pay rise for 2020/21.
Providing the country’s biggest broadband, phone line and mobile network, BT is battling to maintain connectivity across the country as millions of people work from home.
In recent days it has also had to contend with arson attacks and the abuse of some staff from people who believe that 5G masts play a role in spreading the virus.
Shares in the group were up 4.5%.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by James Davey and Mark Potter)