Shepherd Neame puts 85% of workforce on stand-by

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Staff support: Jonathan Neame has said his staff have shown ‘great spirit’ and they will resume their roles in the future
Staff support: Jonathan Neame has said his staff have shown ‘great spirit’ and they will resume their roles in the future

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Brewer and pub operator Shepherd Neame has announced its plans for staff payment, which includes asking 85% of its employees to not work and a temporary salary reduction for higher paid staff who are still working.

The pub company said it would not be making any permanent redundancies but would use the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff.

For staff who have been asked to step away from their roles, the Government will pay 80% of the wages of those earning up to £30,000 per year. The pub group also said it would voluntarily top up the wages to reach 80% of those furloughed who earn over the Government’s maximum limit of £2,500 per month. 

The brewer said its operational focus would shift to producing and distributing beer to the supermarkets in the meantime.

It also confirmed that hourly paid staff would have their pay settled for this month in full and be paid on the normal date.

Some 1,300 people across its managed pub estate and head office have been asked to step aside from their roles, though the company hopes everyone will resume their jobs in the near future. This equates to 85% of its workforce. 

Salary reductions

Higher-paid staff members who are still working will face a temporary salary reduction of between 10-15%, in addition to the group’s directors taking a voluntary reduction of 20%.

The group will phase in these measures from Sunday 29 March for one month, as it stands, until the end of April. It will review the measures when more detailed information from the Government about its support for businesses is announced.

Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “I am incredibly proud of our people, who have shown great spirit, great dedication to the company and have been a great support to each other in these challenging times, as we all adapt our lives to support the national effort.

“Our focus is to protect our people, our teams and the company for the long term. To do this, we have to take the difficult decision today to ask members of our team to stand aside on a temporary basis while our operational focus is restricted to producing beer for the supermarkets.

“As soon as the situation improves, we will focus our efforts on resuming normal activity and look forward to welcoming our team members back at that time.”

The announcement comes as trade bodies have called on the Government to urgently clarify when the scheme will kick in and other details about how it will work.

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