Tech consultancy Palantir, which is pitching for an enormous NHS information contract, has scrapped proposed cuts to firm pension contributions within the UK after a backlash from staff.
The US-based information analytics firm advised its UK employees on the finish of final month that it was contemplating slashing its contribution to the pensions of its longer-serving employees from 10 per cent of wage to six per cent, in line with two present Palantir staff. The proposed change would have come into impact from January 2023 and affected a couple of quarter of UK employees.
Such a transfer would have constituted an efficient pay lower at a time of hovering inflation and was seen by some longstanding employees as the newest in a sequence of cuts to their advantages.
The proposal additionally got here as Palantir is making ready a multimillion-pound contract bid to run a brand new NHS information platform, doubtlessly embedding the corporate on the coronary heart of the UK’s well being programs.
Greater than 200 “Palantirians” — as the corporate calls its employees — joined a gaggle on the company messaging app Slack to debate the adjustments, with many vocally opposing the transfer. Some longer-serving UK employees chafed at what they mentioned was a gradual chipping away at their advantages. As an illustration, a lower to a UK housing allowance value a whole lot of kilos a month was introduced in 2019.
Following the backlash, Palantir’s chief working officer, Shyam Sankar, convened a convention name for workers final Monday. One worker described the question-and-answer session with administration as “brutal”, together with a dialogue of executives’ personal pay packages.
Palantir’s high govt workforce took house complete pay value $8mn final yr. Chief govt Alex Karp was paid $1.1bn in 2020, together with one-off inventory awards associated to the completion of the corporate’s preliminary public providing.
Following the decision, Sankar advised employees it had scrapped the proposal and apologised for a way he had launched the thought.
Palantir has some 850 staff within the UK. The pension lower would have affected those that joined greater than two years in the past. UK recruits who joined after April 2020 had been already receiving a 6 per cent pension contribution and the corporate offered the change as bringing the 2 teams into alignment.
Many tech firms, as soon as well-known for his or her free lunches and generosity to employees, are paring again advantages, decreasing their tempo of hiring and even reducing jobs, as they put together for a possible recession and a tighter funding atmosphere.
Cybersecurity consultants typically cite disgruntled staff as a possible safety danger. The stakes in that regard are excessive for Palantir, whose Foundry software program was utilized by the NHS to handle the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme amongst different pandemic commissions.
Palantir’s potential involvement in a proposed £360mn Federated Knowledge Platform, which might entail it dealing with much more delicate affected person information, has sparked protests over the corporate’s ties to the US safety providers and its co-founder Peter Thiel, an early Fb investor and distinguished supporter of former US president Donald Trump.
The award of the NHS FDP contract had been anticipated subsequent month however the change of presidency within the UK over the summer season has delayed a choice into the brand new yr.
Palantir mentioned its about-turn on pensions was merely “good apply”.
“It isn’t uncommon for an organization to evaluate its pension coverage every now and then. Nevertheless, it is usually good apply for an employer to pay attention rigorously to its staff,” the corporate mentioned. “We take explicit pleasure in valuing our staff as we all know our nice persons are what drives our success. That’s the reason, having engaged with those that would have been affected by the potential change, we took the immediate determination to not press forward.”