Emap is believed to have a backlog of thousands of unpaid invoices, causing chaos for freelances, following centralisation of its accounts.
The initiative, known as “Project Bob”, involved Emap’s accounts transferring from London to Peterborough, where a completely new system was put into place.
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There is believed to be a backlog of up to 8,000 invoices, with some freelances waiting to be paid for work done in February.
One leading picture agency is said to have blacklisted some Emap titles over non-payment.
The NUJ has intervened and Emap said it is doing its best to speed up payments.
One freelance said: “Delay in payments has caused broken promises to my bank, extra bank charges for being overdrawn, extra bank charges for increasing overdraft, concern over mortgage payments and, most importantly, severe compromises in everyday money management, including feeding my children.”
Other journalists have had to provide duplicate and triplicate invoices, while another was told their pay had been sent to a complete stranger in another country. “It’s a mess and I have a mortgage to pay,” a freelance said.
John Toner, NUJ national freelance organiser, contacted Emap last week and managed to get payments to some journalists speeded up the next day. He said he had received dozens of complaints. “It is a big problem. There have been delays and if more people come to me, I will take up their case.”
Project Bob has been in progress for 12 months. Emap launched the initiative claiming the old system was proving ineffective.
An Emap spokeswoman said the company was aware of the problem and as soon as it had come to its attention, freelances were paid immediately.
“We are going from a very decentralised system to a centralised one. There is a backlog and we are obviously working 24/7 to work through that backlog. This is a major, major project. We receive about 1,000 invoices a day and we have people working through the night. One of the key things [freelances can] do is send the invoices to the shared service centre, then they should get paid within one to two weeks.”
By Ruth Addicott