Email calls on managers to “convince” unpaid employees to continue working

RMJM’s New York office is struggling to convince staff owed unpaid wages to turn up for work, an email sent by its HR department suggests.

The email, reported by Building’s sister title BD, was sent earlier this month by RMJM’s North America human resources manager Jean Warren to senior managers.

The firm’s New York staff are owed up to two-and-a-half month’s wages and the email details the company’s response to those either not turning up for work or asking to be put on unpaid leave.

The email says the firm can authorise unpaid leave but states: “It is vital that we try our very best to convince our employees that if nobody is working anymore, it will just lead to a more difficult situation. The business in essence is only existing through our employees and we need to build this up now for our future work and collections.”

It adds that staff not coming into work – and who are not sick or on holiday – should not be paid at all. “We will consider it as unpaid leave, this to be communicated in advance with line manager.”

Senior managers are told they should report employees not turning up or asking for unpaid leave to the HR department.

“The HR team will also monitor sickness very closely during this difficult time so please ensure that any staff calling in sick are reported immediately.”

The email makes clear that RMJM, which has the blamed the problem of late salaries on recouping money owed elsewhere in the business, expects the issue of late payments to be resolved “allowing normal employment to resume”.

Recipients of the email are told that the approach has been “approved by [chief executive] Peter [Morrison] and [group commercial director] Declan [Thompson].”

The New York office has been hit by a string of departures in recent months and last week it emerged that West Virginia University had ditched RMJM from a project because of concerns over the architect’s finances and the number of staff leaving the business.