The Standard Group has announced a Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) program for its employees, amid fears of fresh retrenchments.

In a memo to staff on October 5, 2023, Acting Group CEO Joe Munene said the VER program was part of the company's ongoing efforts to adapt to changing business needs.

"The VER program offers all our employees a voluntary opportunity for employment separation with an attractive benefits package," Munene said in the memo.

The VER offer will run from Friday to the close of business on Wednesday, October 11, 2023.

According to the MEMO, any employee who takes up VER will be entitled to the following package:

• Payment for days worked until the date of exit.

• Severance pay of 15 days for every completed year of service.

• A once-off ex gratia payment of 2 days for every completed year of service.

 •Payment for leave days accrued and not taken at the time of exit.

• Notice pay as per contract of Employment.

• Pension dues or gratuity in accordance with the Scheme Rules or Contract of Employment, respectively.

• Medical, Group Life up to the end of the year.

The memo proceeded to say that employees who wish to apply for the VER program must submit their details through a link provided in the memo.

"Acceptance or decline will be communicated within 7 working days from the deadline for submission," Munene said.

Munene also noted that the VER program will not interrupt the ongoing redundancy process, as they will be running concurrently.

This comes only a month after the Standard Group announced its intention to declare redundancy, impacting staff across various departments after registering losses in the H1 2023.

In a memo seen by Swala Nyeti issued by Munene, the company cited the need to adapt to a leaner, more efficient business structure in response to evolving media consumption trends driven by digital technology advancements.

The company also assured that the redundancy process would adhere to the guidelines set out in the Employment Act of 2007 and the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) for union employees.

"The Company will ensure the process and the selection criteria are fair and in compliance with the provisions of the Employment Act, 2007, and the Collective Bargain Agreement ("CBA") for union employees.," the memo stated.

Employees who are declared redundant under the arrangement were also promised a comprehensive compensation package.

The Standard Group's announcement of the VER program also comes at a time when the media industry in Kenya is facing a number of challenges, including declining advertising revenue and the rise of digital media.

In recent years, a number of media companies in Kenya have been forced to retrench staff in order to cut costs.

The Standard Group's VER program is seen as a way for the company to avoid compulsory retrenchments.

However, it remains to be seen how many employees will take up the VER offer.