P&O Ferries announces compensation package worth £36.5 million after company sacked 800 workers

P&O Ferries says it is supporting former employees into future work. Credit: ITV News Meridian

P&O Ferries has revealed a compensation package worth more than £36.5 million after the company sacked 800 of its workers in a bid to cut crewing costs.

The company says it believes the package is the "largest compensation package in the British Marine Sector".

It says 40 employees are receiving more than £100,000 in payouts, which are being linked to the employees period of service.

It added that some employees will receive more than £170,000.

The company unveiled the compensation package on Tuesday, March 22. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/PA Images

A spokesperson for P&O Ferries said: "This has been an incredibly tough decision for the business: to make this choice or face taking the company into administration. 

"This would have meant the loss of 3,000 jobs and the end of P&O Ferries.

"In making this hard choice, we have guaranteed the future viability of P&O Ferries, avoided large-scale and lengthy disruption, and secured Britain’s trading capacity."

The total value of the financial settlement from P&O Ferries is £36,541,648.

575 of the 786 seafarers affected are in discussions to progress with the severance offers.

P&O says it will pay the following (subject to settlement agreement):

  • 2.5 weeks’ uncapped salary for each year employed rather than the statutory 1 or 1.5 weeks (capped at £544)

  • Up to 13 weeks’ salary in lieu of notice

  • 13 weeks’ salary on top of this in absence of consultation period

  • Some employees are receiving 91 weeks’ pay and the chance of new employment

  • No employee will receive less than £15,000

P&O Ferries says that employees are also being given support to find a new job at sea or onshore and a "comprehensive" employee assistance programme is available.

Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Meanwhile, two parliamentary select committees will join forces to hold a one-off evidence session on Thursday, 24 March.

The Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP and Chair of the BEIS Committee, Darren Jones MP will lead MPs in a joint session which will examine what options are available to Government and the 800 workers who have lost their jobs.

The following organisations have been invited to appear:

  • DP World

  • Chief Executive Officer, P&O Ferries, Peter Hebblethwaite

  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency Chief Executive, Brian Johnson and Director of UK Maritime Services, Katy Ware

  • Ministers from the Department for Transport and BEIS

  • Representative from the Insolvency Service

  • Expertise in employment law

  • Representatives from trade unions, Nautilus International and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

The Chairs said in a statement: "This session will aim to understand the detail of the options available to the 800 workers who were roundly dismissed by P&O Ferries last week. The cruel nature of their dismissal put employment practices and UK plc under the microscope.

"From P&O Ferries, our members want to know why this action has been taken and how it can be justified. From the Government and its agencies, we want confirmation that our laws are not being broken and safety is not being compromised on our ships.

"This shocking story has raised questions about UK employment law, safety practices, the support of this business through a pandemic and the redress available. We intend to hear from the key players about what they are going to do that means these workers are not left high and dry."