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Coronavirus Kent: Faversham's Shepherd Neame tell 1,300 staff to step down during crisis

Brewery giant Shepherd Neame is asking 85% of its staff to go on 'furlough' as a result of the coronavirus crisis as it turns its focus to producing beers for supermarkets.

It is requesting around 1,300 people from its head office and pubs step aside from their current roles on a temporary basis.

Some 85% of its staff have been told they will be on 80% of their wages for the next month
Some 85% of its staff have been told they will be on 80% of their wages for the next month

The Faversham-based firm will be taking advantage of the government's coronavirus job retention scheme which will see all affected paid 80% of their salary up to £30,000.

It says those earning above the threshold will have their wages topped up so 80% of wages are still covered in all cases.

In addition, for those staff who remain in post, higher paid members will have salaries cut by 10-15%.

Last week, directors agreed to take a 20% cut.

It confirmed no staff would be made redundant in the light of all pubs being forced to shut as a result of the measures.

All of Shepherd Neame's pubs have been forced to close due to the restrictions in place
All of Shepherd Neame's pubs have been forced to close due to the restrictions in place

All its hourly paid staff working in its pubs will be paid for March in full and on the normal date.

The measures will be implemented in a phased approach in line with business demand, starting from this Sunday, March 29.

It says the steps are being taken "in the absence of any detailed information from the government" and apply for "one month only at this stage until the end of April".

They will be kept under regular review according to developments.

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.

Jonathan Neame has paid tribute to his staff during the challenging period
Jonathan Neame has paid tribute to his staff during the challenging period

“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 whilst 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.”

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