Domain provides staff with option to take 20% of their salary in share rights or reduce hours during COVID-19

Property platform Domain has given its staff the option of taking 20% of their salary package over the next six months in share rights or choose to reduce working hours during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program, called Project Zipline, comes as another in a long list of employment changes amid companies dealing with the economic downturn following the coronavirus outbreak, including Domain parent company Nine. 

Jason Pellegrino says staff have been ‘overwhelmingly supportive’ of Project Zipline

Domain CEO, Jason Pellegrino said the plan has been overwhelmingly supported by employees, with more than 90% of staff opting into the program.

“While our business is strong, we are not immune to the serious economic impacts that are impacting most industries and organisations across the country,” said Pellegrino.

“There are many unknowns with COVID-19, however, as a leadership team it is our responsibility to set Domain up to deal with the widest range of scenarios possible, while protecting our most important assets – our people and capacity to deliver innovative product solutions at pace

“With this in mind, we believe Project Zipline not only sets Domain up to deal with what lies ahead, but also positions the business well to capitalise on increasing demand for digital transformation across our industry, and to accelerate as listings return.

The announcement comes as Domain reveals it has reached an agreement with its banking group for an increased debt facility of $80m for a term of 18 months, in addition to a facility of $225m. The business currently holds a net debt of $149.5m.

In an announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), Domain said cost-cutting is also a focus for the business, but that staffing is its single biggest expenses and therefore required additional attention.

Domain’s executive leadership team has elected to participate at higher rates in Project Zipline – 30% for senior leaders and 50% for the CEO and board members. The voluntary staff program will take effect for six months from May 2020 and the rights will vest in early November 2021.

“I am very proud of the amazing team that blazed a trail to bring Project Zipline to life in a very short timeframe. We had the option of taking the standard path of reducing hours, stand-downs and redundancies. Instead, by taking a people-first approach, Project Zipline allows us to deliver immediate cost benefits, while preserving jobs for the long term,” said Pellegrino.

“It also provides our employees with the opportunity to invest in Domain and participate as “owners” as listings return. Our shareholders and customers also benefit from this approach, as it strengthens Domain’s key assets and our ability to retain and attract talent and deliver,” he said.

“I would like to express my thanks to the entire Domain team for their tremendous support. It speaks of the unique culture at Domain and shows how much everyone cares about each other, our customers and the business.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Domain has also launched new agent solutions, including digital options for inspections, auctions and transactions. A new online auctions product was built and launched within one week off the back of Domain’s Real Time Agent BidTracker platform.

Domain has paused its print products during the pandemic and reducing spend across outdoor, radio, sporting and events. Domain ended its backing of the Cricket Australia Test cricket events midway through a four-year contract in February.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.