QinetiQ, the former government defence research group, is said to be planning to slash redundancy payments to its workers ahead of a restructuring programme.
Employees at QinetiQ fear up to 1,000 of the 6,500 UK jobs could be lost following a restructure, which will be announced next month.
Staff who joined the company before 2001 are currently entitled to eight weeks’ pay per year of service, capped at 160 weeks’ pay, if they are made redundant.
But Leo Quinn, the firm’s new chief executive, is thought to want to cut this payout later this year to a statutory minimum which would be a maximum of 30 weeks’ pay, the Guardian has reported.
Last week, Quinn e-mailed staff informing them that the company had paid out £75m in redundancy payments in the past three years.
It is also thought that Quinn wants to cut the notice period of six months for compulsory redundancy, along with other staff terms and conditions.
David Luxton, national secretary of the union Prospect, which represents 2,000 of the QinetiQ workforce, said: “It does sour the discussions. They are trying to negotiate with a gun to our heads. All these terms and conditions are written into individuals’ contracts of employment. We are taking legal advice on this issue.”
Management consulting firm McKinsey has been carrying out an external review of the business and is expected to report soon.
The move by QinetiQ would follow a decision by the government to cut civil service redundancy payments.