Openreach welcomes 31,000 employees

31,000 employees move from BT Group into Openreach Limited. 

Final major milestone in creating a more independent, legally separate business. 

BT’s ‘Northern Ireland Networks’ engineering division rebranded ‘Openreach Northern Ireland’. 

Openreach, the UK’s digital network business, today completed what is believed to be the largest one-off people transfer in UK corporate history, under TUPE Regulations[i].

The move means that Openreach Limited - the new, legally separate, wholly owned subsidiary of BT plc - now has an independent workforce of 31,000 people, including the largest team of fibre broadband engineers in the country.

Also from today, BT’s ‘Northern Ireland Networks’ division will be rebranded as ‘Openreach Northern Ireland’[ii]. This team already delivers Openreach products and services in Northern Ireland, and will continue to focus on providing better, broader and more reliable connectivity for all its customers in the communications market.

Mike McTighe, Openreach Chairman, said: “This is an important day for Openreach as we’re fulfilling the commitments to Ofcom under the Digital Communications Review.

“Openreach now has its own Board, greater strategic and operational independence, a separate brand and an independent workforce – and we’re ambitious for the future.

“We’ve set out a clear plan to invest in new, more reliable, future-proof broadband technology, and we’re right in the middle of our largest ever recruitment drive for 3,500 engineers – so it’s an exciting time to be part of Openreach Limited.

“We’re determined to continue improving customer service, collaborating closely with our customers, and spearheading the national rollout of next generation broadband networks.”

BT Group and Openreach have been working closely with partner unions to ensure a smooth transition of people, including conducting a formal consultation on the transfer with unions and employees since July.

In June, the industry regulator Ofcom, reported that Openreach has been making positive progress towards implementing the commitments made under its review, with the people transfer the significant remaining milestone to overcome.

Openreach has committed to invest in faster, better broadband networks, through its new ‘Fibre First’ strategy and is planning to roll-out full-fibre broadband to 3 million households by the end of 2020 with an ambition to reach 10 million by the middle of the next decade.

Openreach also announced in July a series of wholesale discounts to incentivise its 600 Communications Providers to upgrade their customers onto the better broadband networks it has already built. This, in turn, will see Openreach delivering more money back to publicly subsidised broadband projects[iii].


Notes to Editors:

From 1 October 2018, Openreach Northern Ireland (formerly Northern Ireland Networks) financial and operational key performance indicators (KPIs) will be reported within Openreach. Previously these were reported within BT’s Business and Public Sector division.

[i]The transfer is achieved under The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/246), or “TUPE”. TUPE sets out the information and consultation approach as well as various employee rights such as continuity of employment, pension rights and protecting terms and conditions.

[ii]The rebranding of Northern Ireland Networks is in line with voluntary commitments made by BT, following regulator Ofcom’s UK-wide Digital Communications Review in 2017. The Northern Ireland Networks team will report into Openreach, but maintain its local management team and organisational structure.

[iii]Under the terms of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, we have committed to repay or re-invest grant funding depending on factors including when customer adoption of the new services we’ve built passes beyond the 20% mark in related areas. This funding can be reinvested to further improve coverage and speeds via future contracts. As of March 2018, BT has made provision for £528m to be returned over the lifetime of the contracts and £80m of this has already been committed – earlier than required - to improve speeds and coverage in certain areas.

For further information

Enquiries about this story can be made to the Openreach PR team at press@openreach.co.uk. All news releases can be accessed on our web site.