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News staff fear for safety as broadcaster wants to stop paying for taxis

Staff at broadcaster GB News are worried over cost-cutting plans to stop paying for taxis to and from its London studios, which they believe will put people at risk.

The Byline Times reports that from September, the broadcaster is embarking on a huge cost-cutting exercise, part of which will see staff having to pay for their own transport to and from work, whatever the cost and whatever the time of day.

In an email sent to staff by management – which has been seen by the Byline Times – bosses acknowledge that the proposed £1,000 salary increase for all staff may not cover the cost of their commute.

The news site reports that the decision “was met with uproar among the station’s employees, with many now said to be looking for new jobs, and some considering a protest against the measure, which they say will particularly put women in danger”.

Speaking anonymously, one GB News worker told the Byline Times: “This policy change will put staff – particularly women – in danger if they have to make long journeys on public transport in the early hours, and so many of us will be forced to get taxis, but now pay for them ourselves.”

They added that the £1,000 pay increase “would be lost by those who feel they do need to get taxis – as each person likely spends thousands on taxis each year – so it is essentially a pay cut in disguise”.

“There is some talk of a protest, especially as the company said it would reconsider the move if output was affected, but I can’t see how the already mistake-prone output could get anyone worse as a result of people getting less sleep and being tired due to longer commutes.”

While many companies are trying to make savings amid the cost-of-living crisis, the reaction to the GB News proposals highlights the important role taxi drivers play in the community.

Whether it is staff hailing a black cab with public hire insurance at a taxi rank or in the street, or booking a PHV with private hire insurance from the studios to take them home, especially in the early hours when public transport is limited, taxis provide a convenient, reliable and safe way to travel.

And their importance was not lost on GB bosses either. An email to staff from the HR department said: “It was recognised that this proposed change would impact all employees, contributors, presenters, freelancers, guests and consultants with very limited exceptions.

“It has been decided that the current discretionary policy . . . will cease from [the] week commencing 1 September 2024 in its current form.

“For those assessed by GB News as being materially impacted by this change of policy, we propose increasing their basic salary by £1,000 per annum, subject to normal deductions and paid in equal instalments on a monthly basis . . . to mitigate the removal of the reimbursement of taxi costs.

“We are aware that for a relatively small number of employees a £1,000 salary increase may not sufficiently mitigate against their annual taxi costs.

“We intend to consider offering those individuals additional financial support for a period of 12 months . . . on a transparent and fair basis, and we will be in touch with those individuals shortly.”

While company-funded taxis to and from work in busy cities such as London undoubtedly make commuting easier for all staff, for some, the change might force them to find work somewhere else.

Each employee’s circumstances are different, but for those who are expected to travel on their own in the early hours, possibly exposing themselves to risk, companies should do the right thing to look after them.”

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.

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