William Hill CEO Uses Charity To Buy Goodwill During Mass Layoffs

Although the US as a nation is responding woefully to the coronavirus outbreak a few states have taken it upon themselves to institute robust quarantine, social distancing, and shelter in place laws.

By: Jon Pill

Some companies have followed suit, including William Hill US which closed its 153 Nevada, Iowa and New Jersey outlets. In a sign that may suggest that William Hill is in a rough patch financially, the company has also been furloughing and laying off many workers rather than giving them sick pay or paid leave.

In response to the closure of the William Hill outlets, Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US, has decided to donate his monthly paycheques to a foundation which he has set up for the laid off and furloughed workers who relied on those shops for their livelihood.

This only sounds generous until you remember that, firstly, those charitable donations are tax-deductible in the US.

Secondly, the meat of a CEO’s earnings are in things like bonuses and stock options, not his salary. Bonuses are performance-based, so if the board like Asher’s little performance here, the financial reward for him could easily exceed the amount of his donation.

And thirdly: as CEO, Joe Asher is the person who could have ensured these workers were paid properly before the crisis, or given paid sick leave during the crisis.

If he had done one of those things, perhaps his employees would not need to rely on charity to survive.

The gesture is not entirely meaningless. To those families who can eat because of these donations, it will mean the world.

However, it does highlight the astonishing inequality of the company’s structure. The people who created value for the company need charity, while the man in charge can afford to donate his entire paycheque for months without worry.

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