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“We’ll pay you not to work”: Telefónica targets its staff aged over 53

by on February 4, 2016

I had to read the heading twice when a colleague sent me this link to the CIPD website.

The item describes a new policy introduced by the Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider in which it is offering staff aged over 53 years who have been with the organisation for more than 15 years, the chance to stay at home, and not work; they would receive 68% of their salary. Staff who take up the offer are free to return to full-time work at any time.

Why? Well it seems to be part of a broader set of pay and working conditions negotiated with the unions in July last year with a view to reducing the organization’s overall wage bill. Telefónica apparently expects the scheme will generate €370m (£280m) in savings.

The same story was covered here in The Guardian. Staff who opt to take up this offer will remain under contract and Telefónica will continue to pay their social security and private health contributions until they reach the age of 65. This has the effect of saving the Spanish state the cost of further unemployment benefits which presumably would have been payable if the staff had been made redundant. I imagine that the 15 year qualification period might rule out quite a percentage of staff but it’s an intriguing ‘solution’, one that potentially removes staff with the most experience. But then Spain has a high youth unemployment rate so there may be political pressures.

I’m sure many of us have days when such an offer would look very tempting! On the other hand, I don’t think I can see this happening in the UK.  As is pointed out in the CIPD article, the GMB union in the UK worked with construction manufacturer JCB to save more than 100 jobs, after a collapse in global sales. Over 2,000 employees of the UK organisation voted to reduce their weekly hours from 39 to 34, in order to decrease the number of compulsory redundancies. I don’t think the hours reduction was related to their age.

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