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March 24, 2020

Sixers, Devils at-will employees asked to take salary reductions due to COVID-19 outbreak

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Stock_Carroll - 76ers Sixers Training Facility Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia 76ers training facility near the Camden, NJ waterfront.

At-will employees making over $50,000 for the Sixers and Devils have been asked to take salary reductions of up to 20 percent as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, a team source confirmed to PhillyVoice on Monday evening. Marc Stein of The New York Times was the first to report the news.

Those employees include employees in marketing, sales, communications, and a variety of different members of business and sports operations for both franchises, a team source told PhillyVoice. The change will apply to the period through the end of the Sixers' fiscal year on June 30th. 

The Sixers will not have layoffs and there will not be any changes to health insurance or 401k as a result of the move, a team source told PhillyVoice, which was part of the internal discussion about such a move being made.

Under-contract employees, which includes but is not limited to members of the coaching staff and front office, have also been asked to participate in the program, but are not under obligation to do so and can continue working under the terms of their current contracts. While it is unclear who all will participate in the program, department heads across several different areas of the Sixers organization committed to participating in the program during meetings to discuss the organizational changes.

In a statement provided to PhillyVoice late Monday evening, Scott O'Neil (CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment) said the following:

As we navigate this evolving COVID-19 environment, we are mindful of the long-term impact the suspension of live events and games will have on our organization and industry. To ensure we can continue to support and operate our businesses during these uncertain times without reducing our workforce, we are asking our full-time, salaried employees to temporarily reduce their pay by up to 20 percent and move to a four-day week. In addition to supporting our people, we are committed to playing an ongoing role in funding efforts to help the most impacted residents in our home cities. In the coming days, we will enter into additional partnerships in Philadelphia, Camden and Newark to assist our neighbors with food and resource distribution during this public health crisis.

In conjunction with these changes, a team source told PhillyVoice the Sixers are aware of the many changes to the work-life balance of their employees, with many employees now caring for (and homeschooling) children who are out of school due to COVID-19 related closures. The team is attempting to make changes "wherever possible," including reductions down to four-day workweeks for many of their employees, which means avoiding calls, meetings, and other work-related duties on Fridays unless absolutely necessary. 

"We're going to try to be mindful of the period we're navigating and wherever possible let people focus on their families, their health, and their well-being," a team source said.

Cost-cutting will hit other parts of spending for the organization, with reductions in the budget for areas like travel, among other categories viewed as "unnecessary" expenses during a league hiatus. The Sixers, along with the rest of the NBA, are uncertain of if the league will return this season, when that might happen if it does, and what that return would look like in terms of fan attendance, game locations, etc., so these changes are being presented as their method of coping with the current time of uncertainty.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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