Babcock Wyvil Court and Woofferton transmitting station
On 28 August 2018 Babcock announced the exchange of contracts on the sale of Babcock Media Services Ltd. to a third party. BECTU is here to support Babcock workers at this time.
To make the sale possible, the company is proposing to transfer a number of staff members from Babcock Communications to Babcock Media services. The staff affected, by the transfer and/or the sale, are those working at Wyvil Court in London and at Woofferton transmitter station.
BECTU’s here for you
BECTU is the sole recognised trade union at Babcock, with negotiating rights for all the affected staff, and the company will be consulting with BECTU on a regular basis regarding the staff transfer and the sale of the business.
BECTU will collectively represent the views of members and work hard to ensure the best possible outcome. Your BECTU reps - Andy Clark, Leon Barrett, Stephen Annette and Stephen Hatfield – will be supported in the consultations by BECTU official Sean Kelly, who joined the union after 35 years’ experience in the television industry and who has worked on a number of broadcast industry TUPE transfers and company sales.
Kelly says: “It is vital, at this time of change and uncertainty, that all staff receive the best possible support and advice, and BECTU stands ready to assist. BECTU is the staff voice. The single most effective contribution staff can make to safeguarding their future is to join with their colleagues, in BECTU, to ensure their voices are heard.”
BECTU’s contact email address for the consultation is email@example.com and questions and opinions are invited.
Frequently Asked Questions
A PDF of these Q&A's is attached to this page and can be downloaded here. It will be updated weekly throughout this process
Q. Do we know the identity of the purchaser of Media Services?
A. Encompass Digital Media.
Q. Who is Encompass?
A. A large American company, with a turnover several times that of Babcock Media. It already owns operations around the globe, including in the UK. The sale is to Encompass Digital Media Inc. in the US, not to the UK-owned subsidiaries.
Q. What is being sold?
A. Babcock Media Services Ltd., which will comprise the current operation plus staff transferred in from Babcock Communications – essentially, the businesses and staff currently at Wyvil Court and Woofferton.
Q. What about Babcock’s overseas operations eg Ascension Island?
A. The position of each overseas holding is slightly different. Facilities owned by Babcock will be part of the sale, facilities operated by Babcock will be operated by the new company post-sale under a “framework agreement”. For the staff and customers, the only immediate consequence of the sale will be the change of name from Babcock.
A. The intent is 30th September 2018, but it is not impossible it will be delayed.
Q. Will the company name change?
A. Yes, but the new name is not yet known.
Q. What about Skelton transmitter station?
A. Skelton is operated by Babcock Marine and will not be transferring or sold.
Transfer of staff
Q. Is the transfer of staff from Communications to Media Services a TUPE transfer?
Q. Are the rigging staff working at Skelton and Woofferton affected?
A. No, they will not be transferring. They will continue to work as now, servicing the new company through a “framework agreement” between Babcock and Encompass.
Q. What does a TUPE transfer mean?
A. Broadly speaking, TUPE means that your contractual terms and conditions are protected against being changed because of the transfer to a different employer.
Q. Does TUPE protect against all change?
A. No. Employers may propose measures to be consulted on, with an intent to seek agreement. The measures proposed in this case are:
- Pay date – proposed to change from 15th to 21st of the month;
- Annual leave year – proposed to change to January-December (currently April-March);
- Defined benefit pension scheme – contributions will cease and members will be able to transfer to a defined contribution scheme;
- Location – it is intended for the London operation to move from Wyvil Court to Chiswick.
Q. Is there a time limit on TUPE protection?
A. No. However, as with any business, subsequent changes (for example, to the turnover of the company) may give rise to proposals for further change.
Terms and Conditions
Q. Will terms and conditions change with the transfer and the sale?
A. No, TUPE broadly protects against change as a consequence of the transfer of staff from Communications to Media Services. If the proposed sale of Media Services takes place, staff will remain employed by Babcock Media Services and, although the company name will likely change, the relationship between employer and employees is unchanged.
Q. Can terms and conditions be changed in the future?
A. Not as a direct result of the transfer or sale. If the company wishes to make any changes in the future, they would still need to consult with BECTU.
Q. Will redundancy terms or procedures change with the transfer and the sale?
A. The company is not proposing any change.
Q. Will the transfer or sale affect union recognition?
A. The company is not proposing any change.
Q. When will the pay date change from 15th-21st?
A. It is expected to be November.
Q. Is the company offering assistance to anybody who might be in short term difficulty from the change?
A. The company will consider sympathetically the position regarding individuals with specific problems, who should approach HR.
Annual leave year
Q. How will the change be handled?
A. The company expects to have an adjusted leave year with pro-rated leave.
Q. Will leave I have already be booked be honoured?
Q. Is ending contributions to the DB scheme legal?
A. Yes, it is not possible for staff to stay in the Babcock scheme once they leave the group. BECTU will be taking advice on how best to protect members’ pensions.
Q. Is there any compensation to staff who lose future DB pension contributions?
A. The company is putting in place a compensation arrangement for affected staff who move into the Encompass money purchase scheme. For more information, talk to one of your BECTU reps.
Q. Would existing DB pension entitlements be preserved?
A. Yes, that is a legal requirement. However, during consultations BECTU will work to ensure that adequate provision is in place to ensure that there is sufficient employer backing in place for any shortfall.
Q. What will happen to the current DC scheme?
A. Staff will transfer to the Encompass scheme for future contributions and will continue to make matched contributions on the current basis.
Q. Is the Encompass scheme safe?
A. The Encompass scheme is administered by Punter Southall Aspire and your pension is invested with Aviva, both reputable pension companies.
Q. Can or should I transfer my current pension savings to the new scheme?
A. You would need to take specific individual advice tailored to your personal circumstances. The Babcock pension scheme will be providing more information to help individuals understand their position and options, and BECTU recommends that if you need advice, you consult an IFA.
Q.Will the company pay for advice on my pension options?
A. All DB members will be able to consult WPS (details through the company pension website), and the company will pay half the cost.
Q. When will the move of London premises occur?
A. It is expected to be approximately a year after the sale.
Q. Will there be compensation for affected staff?
A. The company is proposing to pay the difference in travel costs for a year.
Q. My season ticket is coming up for renewal. Should I renew it as normal?
A. Yes. If you foresee any problems, approach your manager or HR, but the general approach is “business as usual”. If you subsequently have to alter your travelling arrangements, any extra costs (eg from handing back a season ticket early) will be part of your compensation discussion.
Q. When we move to Chiswick, my travel time will be extended. Can I shorten my working day to compensate?
A. No. However, the company will be flexible on start times.
Q. Will arrangements for remote working be altered?
A. The company is not proposing any change. Encompass policy is to encourage a day a week working at home, when that is compatible with the role.
Health and Safety
Q. Will the EAP still be available?
A. Encompass has a very similar arrangement in place which will be available to all staff, albeit with a different provider.
Q. Some important health and safety functions at my workplace are provided by Babcock group. What will happen after the sale?
A. There will be a “framework agreement” in place, under which Babcock group will continue to fulfil the same functions as currently.
Q. What happens to my life insurance, currently provided by Babcock?
A. The current life insurance will continue to apply up to the sale. From the day of sale, all staff’s lives will be insured at 4 times salary, regardless of whether they’re in the pension scheme.
Q. The childcare voucher scheme closes to new applicants on October 4th. If we currently use the scheme, will we be affected if the sale does not happen at the end of October?
A. No. The Encompass scheme is operated by the same provider as the Babcock scheme and users will not be affected.
Q. What if I want to start using the childcare voucher scheme?
A. You need to apply immediately as the cut-off date of 4th October applies whether or not the sale has completed.
Q. I am buying Babcock shares through my pay. What happens?
A. When you leave Babcock, you will no longer be able to buy shares through the company share purchase scheme. If you have funds which have not yet been used for share purchase, they will be refunded to you.
Q. Will I be able to sell my shares through the Babcock portal?
A. We are still waiting for an answer.
Q. I am required to hold shares purchased through the Babcock scheme for three years. Will that still apply?
A. No. When you leave Babcock, any shares you hold can be disposed of as you see fit.
Q. Is there an equivalent Encompass share purchase scheme?
A. No, Encompass is not publicly traded.
Q. What happens to International SOS?
A. Encompass does not subscribe to International SOS, but it does have a global travel insurance policy. Babcock Media Services are currently examining whether it is adequate for the company’s and staff’s needs, or whether additional arrangements are required.
Q. Will expenses policy change?
A. It is expected that the new company will move to the Encompass policy in due course.
Q. How will I be consulted?
A. There will be individual consultations with staff who are to be transferred.
Q. Am I entitled to be accompanied by a union rep at individual consultations?
A. Legally, there is no such requirement. However, if you feel you need assistance from BECTU the company will accept that and you should approach a branch official to request it.
Q. Will the individual consultations have any effect?
A. Experience is that individual consultations scarcely if ever affect a company’s plans.
Q. Does anything ever change during consultations, then?
A. Yes, experience is that collective consultations where the staff are effectively represented by their Trade Union can improve outcomes for staff.
Q. What stage is the collective consultation at?
A. We have now had three constructive meetings between management and BECTU, and the company has been open. Members’ feedback has been important in shaping our contribution, and your feedback remains invaluable as we approach the half-way point of the formal consultation period.
Q. So what can I do?
A. If you’re not a member, join BECTU and send us your thoughts – and if you’re in London, come to the meeting on 27th September (non-members welcome, ask a rep for details).
V314 September 2018