Archant furloughs journalists for one day a week in second lockdown

Editorial staff at regional publisher Archant were furloughed for one day a week from the start of the November national lockdown, according to multiple sources.

Editors and reporters are among those who have been put on the flexible furlough scheme and Press Gazette understands they expect it to last until lockdown ends on 2 December.

Archant, which publishes The New European and local news titles in Norfolk, Suffolk, London, Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Devon and Somerset, was bought by private equity firm Rcapital in August.

Lower paid staff, such as reporters, are having their wages topped up by the company for the day they are on furlough so they don’t lose any money.

Editors and any other higher paid staff affected receive 80% of their pay through the Government’s job retention scheme, which was extended for the return of lockdown, for the day they are not working.

Each department is being treated separately, with the data and insights team and management among those who continue to work as normal.

Press Gazette understands a number of sales staff were furloughed for the first week of the second lockdown in England, which started on 5 November.

However local businesses have been reassured by the Government’s insistence that the lockdown should not be extended beyond 2 December, meaning demand returned sooner than expected. Staff have therefore been brought back.

Archant declined to comment on the latest measures.

The publisher –  alongside rivals Reach, JPI Media and Newsquest –  previously made use of the furlough scheme for a “small number” of staff in April whose work had “disappeared” or been “radically reduced” by the Covid-19 crisis.

The publisher later made a small number of redundancies in its London and Hertfordshire sports teams.

The Government’s guidance on using the job retention scheme states that employers can flexibly furlough staff meaning they can work any pattern but cannot do any work during their furloughed hours.

Companies are told they can use the scheme if they “cannot maintain your workforce because your operations have been affected by coronavirus”.

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