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BP to do away with nine-day fortnight

Times Online
The Times
August 19, 2008

BP to do away with nine-day fortnight

BP is to scrap its nine-day fortnight for thousands of workers as part of a wide-ranging efficiency drive.

The decision was taken after a review of business practices by an unnamed firm of consultants.

A BP spokesman said that the nine-day fortnight had been inherited from Amoco, the American company acquired by BP in 1998. It had applied at several BP offices for the past decade, including Sunbury-on-Thames on the western outskirts of London, where about 2,000 staff are based and where employees can take every other Friday off if they work a set number of hours every fortnight. Sunbury is the headquarters of several of BP’s business units, including exploration and production, gas, power and renewables, chemicals and international shipping.

BP said that the practice was not observed at corporate headquarters at St James’s Square, Central London, where Tony Hayward, the chief executive, is based.

In a 2003 report on flexible working, BP was named as one of 50 model employers by the Department of Trade and Industry in its approach to employees’ “work-life balance”. In a foreword to the report, Flexible Working – 50 Success Stories, Patricia Hewitt, then Secretary of State, wrote: “I hope these examples prove the business benefits that flexible working can bring, and that they help inspire other organisations to follow suit.” Another report produced in 2005 by the Department for Transport said that the option, which is open to most staff, had been “introduced to avoid employee burn out’”.

BP’s decision to abolish the nine-day fortnight forms part of a wider effort to trim expenditure at BP. In February, Mr Hayward unveiled plans to shed 5,000 jobs and to shave up to $1.5 billion (£804 million) from the company’s annual cost base. BP employs nearly 100,000 people in about 100 countries.

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