ViacomCBS Cuts Merit Pay Increases for 2020 Due to Coronavirus (EXCLUSIVE)

Viacom HQ LA
Michael Buckner/Variety

Viacom-CBS has enacted some additional belt-tightening for 2020, as employee merit pay increases have been eliminated for the year.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic’s continued hammering of the media sector, Viacom-CBS CEO Bob Bakish addressed staff in a global town hall event on Wednesday morning to announce the cuts.

“In an effort to manage company assets conservatively during this economically challenging time, we have come to the difficult but necessary decision to forego merit increases for all employees this year,” Bakish said, according to multiple individuals familiar with the meeting.

Merit pay is unscheduled increases in compensation based on performance, and is separate from bonuses.

A Viacom-CBS spokesperson had no immediate comment on the matter.

Sources said there’s also a feeling more staff reductions may shake out by the end of the year, which will come as part of the recent recombination of CBS and Viacom, and not as part of pandemic economic factors. The company has enacted several rounds of layoffs since February, its highest round affected roughly 100 employees across holdings.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic, we were already in a period of significant change to integrate our newly combined company — work that is helping us weather this crisis, creatively adapt and strengthen the resiliency of our business,” Bakish said at the time.

On Wednesday, Bakish also said that domestic employees would not be returning to their offices “for the foreseeable future,” according to another individual. Months ago, the CEO announced that all office locations including their New York headquarters would remain closed through the end of 2020.