News of the World Closure: What does it mean for the employees?
Yesterday’s announcement that the News of The World is to close, after 168 years, sent shock waves around the publishing world.
The most shocked, however, are the newspaper’s hundreds of staff, who now face an uncertain future, despite the majority being blameless in relation to the hacking scandal which has brought down the publication. The newspaper’s political editor, David Wooding, told BBC Breakfast “”There are 200 people there, I think there are three who were there during the hacking time.”
What happens to employees when an organisation makes the decision, almost overnight, to close in its entirety?
If the paper intends to make its staff redundant, it will need to comply with statutory consultation procedures: where more than 100 employees are to be affected, there must be a minimum consultation period of 90 days and the organisation must enable the employees to elect representatives and discuss ways to avoid the redundancy situation. Any failure to do so can lead to large punitive awards against the employer.
In addition, employees who are to be made redundant will be entitled to receive their notice and redundancy pay which, in some organisations, can be greater than the statutory minimum.
News International may be able to minimise the costs of making so many employees redundant by redeploying them within the organisation and rumours abound that a “new” paper, The Sun on Sunday, may be in the pipeline. Such a move would enable the organisation to offer roles to the affected employees, but it may not be enough to save itself from Employment Tribunal claims brought by embittered employees who feel they have been made scapegoats for a political situation that was not of their making.
The one guarantee is that the News of the World may be gone, but it will continue making the headlines for some time to come.