‘Occurrence’ worries– Lexis lay-offs?
Is Lexis Nexis about to give a bunch of its employees the boot? In the past two years, the company that anchors the east end of the Downtown Mall has reduced its Charlottesville workforce from 600 to 300, including last year's sell-off of the printing portion of the business to Cadmus Communications Corporation, which took on about 90 Charlottesville Lexis employees.
Now, a February 17 article in London's Daily Telegraph indicates that remaining employees of Reed Elsevier–- Lexis' Anglo-Dutch parent company–- should keep their resumes polished. According to the Telegraph, which cites several unnamed analysts, Reed Elsevier plans to axe 1,000 of its 37,000 global positions to help save $200 million over the next two to three years. All of the positions cut will be outside Great Britain, the article claims.
At the local Lexis operation, employees are "anxious," say sources too fearful to use their names. They cite several new policies implemented since January as examples of ways the company may be trying to push them out: 120 editors were converted from salaried to hourly status in January, a move some fear could make it easier to fire them.
Also implemented in January: a system by which employee comings and goings are tracked. Anyone who arrives late, leaves early, or calls in sick without giving a full 24 hours notice is given a citation called an "occurrence." According to sources, as few as seven such "occurrences" can result in termination. In addition, many employees were suddenly forced to sign a release allowing the company to do credit and criminal background checks, something one employee believes might have been the company's way of seeking to cut more positions without having to provide severance compensation.
A Chicago-based LexisNexis spokesperson in the public relations department, who also requested anonymity because "that's our policy," would neither confirm nor deny the allegations in the Telegraph report, nor would he comment on any possible lay-off plans in Charlottesville. He did say the change from salaried to hourly has no effect on severance packages, and that the background checks are standard procedure at many if not most international companies. Still, the lack of answers leaves local Lexis employees wondering.
"We're nervous," says one anonymous Lexis-ite, who has heard intra-office discussions about proposed job cuts hitting home. "We don't know what's happening."