News International was yesterday accused of ‘playing fasting and loose with employment law’on the blog of MP Tom Watson.
The accusation came following revelations that former NoW editor Andy Coulson received severance payments from the News International several months after he began working for the Tories.
Coulson, who is believed to have received more than £400,000 from the company, was hired by the Tories on a reported salary of £275,000 six months after leaving the Sunday tabloid.
Tom Watson, the Labour MP at the forefront of the campaign to expose the NoW phone-hacking scandal, said he had been approached by an anonymous former employee angered by the latest Coulson revelations.
It appears, according to the source, that some individuals are in dispute about whether or not they qualied as employees eligible for redundancy payouts.
On his blog Watson posted an email from the employee, who claimed that ‘even while News International is under intense scrutiny for its illegal activities, the company is playing fast and loose with employment law to avoid paying fair severance to many, many innocent people; people like me who had no knowledge of hacking but who can wave goodbye to their careers because of it”.
They added: ‘In brief, News International is using ’employment status’ to dodge paying everyone the four weeks contractual severance. For some this means losing almost half their entitlement and for others it means being cast adrift without a penny. These are people who played a major part in the production of the paper, people who held titles for years and worked exclusively for the News of the World.”
Earlier this month News International staff were offered enhanced redundancy terms under an ‘early leaver’scheme – raising doubts over the company’s pledge to work for all those who lost their jobs when the NoW closed, when the 200-plus full-time staff were placed on three months gardening leave.
On 12 July, News Corp said in a statement that the ‘vast majority’would be found jobs elsewhere in the business, but former staff became concerned when a list of job vacancies elsewhere in News Corp was circulated, including a stock controller in Italy, oil reporter for Dow Jones newswire and a materials manager in Siberia.
News International were not available for comment this morning