Coronavirus live blog

10 Aug 2020 By PM Editorial

Keep up to date with what actions employers are taking to tackle the Covid-19 crisis with People Management's live commentary

Monday 10 August 

4.20pm Websites providing artificial office noise surprisingly popular in lockdown

Sites that provide background noises of things like printers and coffee machines, as well as people chatting, have attracted millions of hits during lockdown, the BBC has reported. When widespread home working was enforced, a number of experts set up office noise websites largely as a bit of fun, but many workers have found them useful.

Belgian research engineer Stéphane Pigeon, who created Office Noise Generator, told the BBC: "When the pandemic hit and people started to work from home, I released an office noise generator, really as a joke. I didn't think anyone would listen.” But he says his page has racked up 200,000 views since April. The Sound of Colleagues has done even better, attracting more than a million page views, including 164,000 from the UK.

12.45pm Lessons from government on petty rule-making

HR and managers need to recognise that overly controlling instructions without fair and effective enforcement are pointless, says Martin Tiplady.

12.30pm One in three employers planning to reduce headcount by end of September, poll finds

Out of the 2,000 organisations surveyed by the CIPD and Adecco Group as part of their quarterly Labour Market Outlook, 33 per cent said they planned to make redundancies in the third quarter of this year. This is a 50 per cent increase in the number of companies expecting to make redundancies compared to the previous quarter.

Private sector firms were twice as likely as public sector organisations to be planning redundancies. Nearly two in five (38 per cent) private sector employers said they were expecting to reduce headcount, compared to less than one in five (16 per cent) in the public sector. Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said this quarter’s outlook was one of the “weakest sets of data” for several years. “Until now, redundancies have been low – no doubt because of the job retention scheme – but we expect to see more redundancies come through this autumn, especially in the private sector, once the scheme closes,” he said.

12pm Pret A Manger to cut staff hours

Pret A Manger has confirmed it has asked thousands of staff to work fewer hours as part of a post-pandemic restructuring. Despite the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, trading continues to be slow as many office workers are still at home. Employees in stores have been asked to work about 20 per cent fewer hours than before. A Pret spokesperson said: "Our biggest priority is to do everything we can to save jobs. With footfall in our shops still significantly below normal levels, we have had to review the hours team members are contracted to work each week – although of course we hope to increase these hours as trade improves.”

11.45am Unions agree to reopen schools but say staff must be protected

Teaching unions have committed themselves to reopening schools next month but remain at loggerheads with the government over routine coronavirus testing and tracing. The National Education Union (NEU) echoed a call by Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, for a robust testing system. At the start of the lockdown, teaching unions were criticised for advising caution about members returning to school until their demands were met. The NEU defended issuing a checklist of almost 200 items, saying it was common sense. The demands include assurances that staff will not have to work longer days and that they should receive support for trauma anxiety. It also wants schools to agree that staff forced to quarantine as a result of holidays booked before the government’s quarantine announcement should be able to work from home or receive paid leave.

9.25am Gyms, swimming pools and play centres reopen in Wales 

Gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres and play centres in Wales will reopen today with strict rules in place. In leisure centres, saunas and steam rooms will remain closed, while hard to clean areas in soft play centres such as ball pits will also remain closed. Businesses are urged to maintain high levels of hygiene and maintain two metre social distancing where possible. 

The Welsh government said businesses were legally required "to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus" on their premises, according to the BBC, which includes measures such as social distancing. Failure to comply could see local authorities issue improvement notices or, in the case of a serious breach, an order to close. 

Friday 7 August

4.45pm Thousands of BA staff to find out if they’ll lose their jobs

Thousands of long-serving cabin crew at British Airways are expected to find out today whether or not they will be made redundant in the airline's measures to combat a significant downturn in passenger numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Staff will be told they are either being made redundant, that they have a role but will have to sign a new contract – most likely with lower pay and worse terms and conditions – or that they will continue in the same role with the same contract. Staff who are being made redundant will have the option of entering the airline’s priority return talent pool and will be fast-tracked into any new roles that become available. The airline said more than 6,000 staff across the business have accepted voluntary redundancy.

Unions have condemned the plan as an attempt to “fire and rehire”. It is being used to push the 30,000 employees who will still have jobs on to downgraded terms and conditions, they say. The plan has also been heavily criticised by MPs, with the chair of the transport select committee Huw Merriman describing it as "the equivalent of putting a gun to someone's head".

1.45pm Return to work and redundancy worries affect more than half of workers, survey finds

More than half of UK employees’ wellbeing has been negatively affected over the past month, according to a survey, as many employers start cutting jobs and asking staff to return to workplaces. The report by Perkbox found that 58 per cent of employees said changes to the furlough scheme and future uncertainty over the world of work had negatively impacted their mental health, leaving them with rising levels of stress and anxiety.

Almost half (46 per cent) said they felt disconnected from their team and business over the past month, while 38 per cent said their physical wellbeing had been affected by the continued pandemic. Only 15 per cent of the 6,273 UK employees surveyed had experienced no negative impacts on their wellbeing in the past month. 

1.30pm Bank of England governor backs ending furlough in October

Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey has supported the government’s plans to wind down the furlough scheme, saying it was important workers were allowed to “move forward” instead of being kept in unproductive jobs – even if this meant some jobs were made redundant. 

His comments came as the bank published new analysis of the impact of lockdown on the economy, which said that while the effect on jobs had not been as severe as predicted in May, unemployment was still likely to increase.

It said that despite the winding down of the government’s support schemes, the majority of workers exiting the furlough scheme were likely to return to work. Because of this, the report said that the impact of unemployment on households would likely be less severe than during the 2008 financial crisis, particularly when looking at levels of household debt.

12.55pm What do the Spanish quarantine rules mean for employers?

With people returning to the UK from Spain required to self-isolate for two weeks, David Sheppard answers key questions around the implications for workers.

12.50pm Carlisle Lake District Airport staff face job cuts

Over half of the workforce at Carlisle Lake District Airport could be at risk of losing their jobs because of the impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry. The airport announced 30 of the airport's current 50 roles could be cut. Last week, Carlisle Lake District Airport said it would not be resuming passenger flights. 

John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle, said the announcement was "very disappointing", but it was "not unexpected". He added: "We had great hopes. A year ago, everything was set for a very successful airport." However, airline Logainair grounded passenger services in March and said it had no plans to restart them at the Carlisle Lake District Airport. 

12.30pm Evening Standard to cut 115 jobs

The Evening Standard has announced it plans to cut 115 jobs – approximate a third of its staff – as the paper sees a drop in advertising because of the pandemic. The freesheet relies on advertising for 80 per cent of its revenue. In April, the Evening Standard imposed a 20 per cent pay cut on some staff and enrolled others in the government's furlough scheme. It also halted the publication of its weekly magazine ES until September. 

12pm Third of JD Wetherspoon head office jobs at risk of redundancy

A third of head office jobs at Wetherspoons are at risk of being made redundant because of the coronavirus pandemic. Chief executive John Hutson said a "possible 110 to 130 positions are at risk" out of the 417 workers stationed at the pub chain's headquarters. He said the move was "mainly a result of a downturn in trade in the pub and restaurant industry", but that "no firm decisions" on the number of jobs to go had yet been made. 

8.40am RSA to cut hundreds of jobs

Insurance company RSA has announced it will cut 300 jobs from its UK operations as the business seeks to further reduce running costs after the pandemic. It announced on Wednesday (5 August) a range of measures including a voluntary redundancy programme and offering staff the opportunity to request reduced working hours. RSA employs 5,300 people across the UK. 

Scott Egan, RSA's UK and international CEO, said the firm is committed to making sure it is in the best possible shape to "be there for our customers in a more certain future". In addition to the redundancy programme, he said: "We are taking a range of actions to reduce [operating costs] over time, including rethinking our physical office space, modernising our IT infrastructure, and simplifying our products and services." 

7.50am Welsh government confirms reopening of gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools

The Welsh government has confirmed the planned reopening of gyms, leisure centres, fitness studios and swimming pools will go ahead on Monday (10 August). Children's play centres will also be able to reopen next week, but areas that are not easy to clean – like ball pits – must remain closed to the public. 

The government said businesses will be legally required to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on their premises, and councils will be given extra powers to enforce these requirements. 

7.30am Travelex cuts 1,300 jobs in UK

Foreign exchange firm Travelex announced it will cut more than 1,300 jobs in the UK as it entered into an administration deal. In January, Travelex was held ransom by hackers after a cyber attack forced it to turn off its systems. PwC, which was appointed administrators for Travelex, said this cyber attack followed by the Covid-19 crisis had hit the firm hard. It also said that a "pre-pack" administration deal had been reached which had saved 1,800 Travelex jobs across the UK. 

As part of the deal, Travelex airport branches and high street shops that were closed during lockdown will not reopen. Toby Banfield, joint administrator at PwC, said the deal had also ensured a further 3,635 jobs globally around the world. He added: "Unfortunately, as the majority of the UK retail business is no longer able to continue trading, it has regrettably resulted in 1,309 UK employees being made redundant today [6 August]."

Thursday 6 August

5pm Manchester Royal Mail delivery office hit by outbreak

A Royal Mail delivery office in Manchester has been hit by a coronavirus outbreak after 19 workers tested positive for the virus, according to the Communication Workers Union. The union said it expected all staff to be tested within the next three days and contract tracing had begun. A mobile testing unit was being set up at the Manchester delivery office on Oldham Road and the centre remained open, with employees continuing to work, according to the BBC. 

The announcement followed a major incident being declared on Monday (3 August) in Greater Manchester after a spike in coronavirus cases in the region. A Royal Mail spokesperson told the BBC the organisation had put a range of “preventative measures” in place and the site had been extensively cleaned. They added that Royal Mail was working with Public Health England to test all staff and that workers had been briefed on social distancing measures.  

4.30pm Bank of England boss backs end of furlough scheme

The Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, has backed the government's decision to end its furlough scheme in October. He told the BBC it was important that policymakers helped workers "move forward" and not keep them in unproductive jobs, saying coronavirus would inevitably mean that some jobs became redundant. "It's been a very successful scheme, but [chancellor Rishi Sunak is] right to say we have to look forward now," he said. "I don't think we should be locking the economy down in a state that it pre-existed in." The bank said it expected unemployment to almost double from the current rate of 3.9 per cent to 7.5 per cent by the end of the year as government-funded support schemes come to an end. It said more workers faced a pay cut or freeze in 2020, adding: "In many cases, bonuses have been scaled back or withdrawn altogether for this year."

1.40pm Record number of Brits looking for work, study shows

Recruiters are seeing the steepest rise in the number of Brits seeking work since the 2008 financial crisis, according to research, as companies start to make redundancies in the wake of the furlough scheme winding down. The latest Report on Jobs survey, by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG, found the increase was particularly acute among those looking for temporary work, with numbers for this group rising in July at the fastest rate since records began in 1997.

The REC’s latest temporary staff availability index – based on a survey of recruiters and where a score more than 50 indicates an expansion in the number of jobseekers, while a score below 50 indicates a contraction – rose to 85 in July. This compared to 83.9 in June, and was also a marked rise compared to before the pandemic, with the index scoring 48.5 in February.

12.45pm Parents, carers and disabled twice as likely to face redundancy, report finds

Parents, carers and those with disabilities are twice as likely as the rest of the population to be at risk of redundancy, a survey has found. A poll of 6,000 people, conducted by Citizens Advice, found more than a quarter (27 per cent) of people with a disability were facing redundancy – increasing to 37 per cent among those who said their disability had a large impact on their day-to-day life – while 39 per cent of parents and carers were at risk of losing their job.

This compared to just 17 per cent of the working age population, suggesting that while the risk of redundancy was widespread, the most vulnerable were likely to bear the brunt of the downturn. The report, An unequal crisis, also found that half (48 per cent) of workers classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and had, until the start of this month, been advised to shield, were now at risk of redundancy.

While acknowledging that most employers wanted “to do the right thing”, the report said the data showed many were not, raising concerns about fair redundancy processes, automatic unfair reasons for redundancy and discrimination.

12.30pm Bank of Ireland to cut 1,400 jobs

The Bank of Ireland has said it will aim to cut 1,400 jobs across the UK and Ireland after launching a group-wide voluntary redundancy programme. Francesca McDonagh, chief executive of the Bank of Ireland, told The Irish Times she had not set a limit for employees exiting under the redundancy scheme, but her target was to reduce the bank's workforce to below 9,000. However, she said, it was likely she could not meet this goal until after 2021. 

Currently, the bank employs almost 10,400 workers. Its voluntary redundancy scheme is set to close on 23 September. 

12.20pm Can employers enforce tests for Covid-19?

Lloyd Davey and Sarah Taylor explain the circumstances under which workplace coronavirus testing is legal, and what organisations should consider.

9.10am Arsenal to make 55 staff redundant

Football club Arsenal has announced its intention to make 55 employees redundant. The Premier League Club said it had been severely impacted by the pandemic and cited the move to reduce staff numbers as a necessary measure for the club's future. In a statement released on Wednesday (5 August), Raul Sanllehi, Arsenal's head of football, and Vinai Venkatesham, managing director of the club, said the main reasons for the proposal were severe decreases in broadcast, matchday and commercial revenues. 

The statement said the reduction in income made it clear Arsenal needed to reduce costs to "ensure we are operating in a sustainable and responsible way, and to enable us to continue to invest in the team". It read: "Our aim has been to protect the jobs and base salaries of our people for as long as we possibly can. Unfortunately, we have now come to the point where we are proposing 55 redundancies." It is understood the job cuts will be dispersed across some football departments as well as commercial and administrative roles. 

9am M&Co to close 47 stores and cut 380 jobs

Scottish fashion retailer M&Co has confirmed plans to permanently close 47 stores and cut 380 jobs. M&Co said it would continue to operate with 218 stores and 2,200 employees after completing a restructuring exercise. The redundancies, which have been made with immediate effect, consist of shop floor workers and staff at M&Co's offices in London and Glasgow. 

M&Co said its reduced network of local high street stores would strengthen its position for the future, “with the coronavirus outbreak reducing appetites to travel longer distances on public transport”. Chief executive Andy McGeogh said the retailer took a "huge financial hit" after shutting stores in March because of the lockdown. He said: "We reopened most stores in June and have been exploring every possible option, but it was obvious that the business, as previously structured, would remain under severe pressure from the ongoing challenges of Covid-19."

8.45am Aecom to cut up to 500 jobs

Construction consultant Aecom is to cut up to 500 jobs across the UK and Ireland as a result of the pandemic. Aecom employs around 7,000 people across the UK. A spokesperson for the company’s UK and Ireland arm said the pandemic heavily impacted Aecom's clients and competitors, and it would be undergoing a restructuring programme to ensure the future of the business. The spokesperson added: “As a result of this we have taken the difficult decision to reshape our business to better meet the demands of our markets and help us continue to provide the best services for our clients. In support of this restructuring, we are beginning a consultation process across the region, which may affect up to 500 roles.”

7.40am Hotel chain LGH puts 1,500 jobs at risk

Hotel management giant LGH has announced almost 1,500 staff in England and Scotland are at risk of redundancy because of the coronavirus crisis. LGH manages 55 properties, including some Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Hallmark hotels, and about 2,500 employees on behalf of the hotels. The company said more than half of these roles were at risk. Joanne Monk, group people and development director at LGH, said no final decisions had been made about the number of jobs that would be cut. But she said LGH hotels were being run by a small number of staff at present, and this was likely to continue for some time. 

7.30am Two-thirds of shielders happy to return to work

Two-thirds (68 per cent) of people shielding from coronavirus who worked before the outbreak would be comfortable returning to the workplace so long as the proper safety measures were in place, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have found. The data, released today, showed that just 6 per cent of clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people had no intention of returning to work in the next four months.

In England, 2.2 million people were classed as CEV, and the ONS estimated that about a third of these people worked before receiving advice to shield.

Wednesday 5 August

3pm Local lockdown in Aberdeen as Covid cluster grows

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that lockdown restrictions are being reimposed in Aberdeen as a result of a rise in coronavirus cases in the city. People are being told not to travel to the city, and those living in Aberdeen face travel restrictions. Additionally, pubs and restaurants will have to close from 5pm tonight (5 August). 

Sturgeon said there were now 54 cases in the "significant outbreak", and that community transmission could not be ruled out. People living in the Aberdeen city area are being told not to travel more than five miles for leisure purposes. Travelling for work or education is permitted, but other travel is not advised. 

The restrictions will be reviewed next Wednesday (12 August) and may be extended further if necessary. 

1.40pm Back to the office FAQs: how should HR approach returning staff to their desks?

From 1 August, the government changed its longstanding advice that employees should work from home if possible, instead telling employers in England that it would be up to them to decide whether it was safe for staff to return to workplaces.

This has signalled something of a green light for businesses considering asking staff to return to offices, with some announcing employees will be returning over the coming weeks. But what steps can HR take to ensure workplaces are safe? And what should employers do if staff don’t want to come back to the office? People Management asked employment lawyers and HR professionals for their advice on best practice.  

12.50pm Coronavirus exec pay cuts ‘superficial or short term’, says CIPD

No FTSE 100 company making cuts to executive pay during the coronavirus outbreak has changed its long-term incentive plan, the latest annual high pay report from the CIPD and the High Pay Centre has said, branding the measures “superficial or short term”.

Out of the top 100 companies listed in the UK, just 36 made cuts to CEO pay in response to the economic downturn caused by Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown. The most common action, taken by 14 firms, was to cut salary by 20 per cent, with two companies announcing they were deferring their CEO’s salary increase. However, the report said, salary was often only a small portion of a CEO’s full pay packet.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said the coronavirus outbreak had proved not to be an “inflection point” for executive pay. “The bulk of cuts made so far appear to be short term and don’t signify meaningful, long-term change,” he said.

12.30pm Metro Bank office staff can work from home until 'after flu season'

Metro Bank has said it will not ask staff to return to the office until the winter flu season is over, citing the potential for a rise in coronavirus cases during the winter months. This means the firm's 1,400 head office and back office employees will not be expected back in the workplace before 2021. The bank added that the success of flexible working meant staff were unlikely to ever return to offices full time, with an internal survey finding just 4 per cent of its office staff wanted to return to workplaces five days a week. 

Chief executive Daniel Frumkin said: "Everybody tells me flu season will be difficult, and it doesn’t seem prudent to let people back in the office in October, staring into a winter that could be very difficult. It seems much more prudent to revisit the topic once we see what the winter unfolds like."

12.05pm The implications of furlough abuse

Richard Fox explains the consequences employers can expect to face if they have intentionally or accidentally misused the job retention scheme.

12pm Creating a return to work culture

Liz Beck outlines the key areas businesses need to focus on as they start to welcome employees back into the workplace.

11.40am WH Smith to consider cutting 1,500 jobs

WH Smith is considering cutting 1,500 jobs after lockdown caused sales to plummet. The company, which employs more than 14,000 people, saw a 92 per cent drop in revenue from its shops in airports and rail stations during the first month of lockdown. Its best-performing division – its 612 high street shops – were still down 25 per cent on the previous year in July – after lockdown had eased. 

Carl Cowling, chief executive of WH Smith group, said that while there had been some progress since the relaxation of lockdown, footfall had dropped because of the pandemic. "We now need to take further action to reduce costs across our businesses. I regret that this will have an impact on a significant number of colleagues whose roles will be affected by these necessary actions," he said.

8.10am William Hill to close 119 shops

William Hill has announced it will not reopen 119 high street betting shops closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, saying it did not expect customers to return to its physical venues in the numbers seen before the pandemic. The company, which has 1,500 outlets, did not say how many jobs could be affected, but said the majority of staff would be redeployed within the business.

The betting company also confirmed it would be repaying the £24.5m it received from the government’s furlough scheme, citing the firm’s strong financial performance since the easing of lockdown. 

Tuesday 4 August

1.20pm Furlough fraud reports rise by 53 per cent in three weeks, official data shows

The number of reported cases of fraudulent coronavirus job retention scheme reports has risen steeply, official figures show, as the government starts to wind down this support. As of 22 July, HMRC had received 6,749 reports of ‘furlough fraud’, compared to around 4,400 at the end of June. This represents a 53 per cent rise in reported cases in just three weeks.

The rise came as official figures showed more than 9.6 million jobs have been furloughed as of 2 August, with 1.2 million employers using the scheme. While the latest figures have added to concerns about abuse of the scheme, experts warned that many employers might also be inadvertently falling foul of furlough rules. Matthew Sharp, senior associate at Fieldfisher, told People Management he doubted much of the reported furlough fraud was intentional. He said the lack of clarity around the scheme, coupled with employers “rushing to save jobs and plan the future of their business”, was inevitably going to lead to mistakes. 

12.40pm Dixons Carphone to cut 800 store management jobs

Dixons Carphone has said it plans to cut 800 jobs as part of efforts to streamline its in-store management. The chain, which owns Currys PC World, said it was "not an easy decision", but the move would allow a "flatter management structure" as it adapts to rising online sales because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mark Allsop, chief executive of Dixons Carphone, said: "We'll do everything possible to look after those colleagues we can't find new roles for, financially and otherwise." 

Dixons Carphone had already made a round of redundancies before lockdown when it closed its 531 Carphone Warehouse shops and the company shifted its mobile phone sales to its Currys PC World stores.

11.30am 1,100 jobs at risk as PizzaExpress plans to close restaurants

PizzaExpress has said it plans to close around 67 restaurants around the UK, 15 per cent of its 449 branches, putting up to 1,100 jobs at risk. The chain blamed the move on a "significantly more challenging environment" caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and said it hopes to launch a restructuring deal in the near future.

The company said the deal would help protect the majority of staff by putting the business on a "stronger financial footing in the new socially distanced environment", and insisted the final outcome of the plan had "yet to be decided". 

9.10am Girlguiding starts redundancy consultation

Girlguiding has announced it has begun a month-long consultation with staff as it faced a £4m drop in funding as a result of the pandemic. In a statement, Angela Salt, chief executive of Girlguiding, said the charity's activities and services had been severely impacted by the crisis and it was now acting to "secure the long-term sustainability" of the organisation. 

The charity was unable to confirm the number of roles at risk of redundancy, saying the final number would not be known until the consultation concluded, but it would attempt to minimise job cuts where possible. Salt added: "We are deeply saddened that we are in this difficult financial position, like many others as a result of the impact of Covid-19, and are now having to take cost-saving measures to sustain us for the future. We are not alone in the charity sector in needing to make valued staff redundant and reduce costs."

8.40am M&S to reopen 102 cafes for government 'eat out to help out' scheme

M&S has announced it is reopening more than 100 more cafes across the UK to encourage footfall as part of the government's ‘eat out to help out’ scheme. The scheme offers customers a 50 per cent discount up to £10 a head on food and non-alcoholic drinks from Monday to Wednesday. The government hopes this will help revitalise the hard-hit food and drink sector. 

M&S said it now has a total of 303 cafes across the UK open for dine-in services, and a further 17 cafes open for takeaway only. 

Monday 3 August 

3.50pm Hays Travel to axe almost 880 jobs

Travel agent chain Hays Travel has announced it is to cut up to 878 jobs as a result of the negative impact the global pandemic has had on the travel and leisure sector. The independent chain has a total workforce of 4,500 people across the UK. In a joint statement, Hays Travel owners John and Irene Hays said the decision by the UK government to ban travel to Spain and the changes in the furlough scheme meant they have had to re-evaluate how the business operates, which has led to the need to cut jobs.

They said: “We are also devastated for everyone who may lose their job, and we will do all we can in consultations to help them, as we focus on retaining as many people as possible and rebuilding consumer confidence through our renowned friendly and knowledgeable customer service.”

1.50pm More than half of furloughed employees have returned to work, analysis suggests

More than half of furloughed workers have now returned to work, according to an estimate produced through analysis of official figures. Figures from HMRC showed that, as of 26 July, 9.5 million people had been placed on furlough. However, analysis by the Resolution Foundation suggested fewer than half that number were still on the job retention scheme today.

The research, based on three separate surveys by the Office for National Statistics, estimated that the actual number of people on furlough as of the beginning of August was likely to be below 4.5 million and could be as low as three million. The release of these figures coincided with the beginning of the next phase of the furlough scheme. As of Saturday (1 August), employers were required to pay national insurance contributions for furloughed employees. This is set to increase again from 1 September, when employers will also be asked to contribute at least 10 per cent of furloughed employees’ wages, going up to 20 per cent in October, the last month of the scheme. 

1.30pm Baby boomers suffer largest coronavirus earnings drop, study finds

Baby boomers have suffered a larger drop in earnings because of coronavirus pay cuts than younger workers, and are just as likely to have been furloughed, a study has found. Research by the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial watchdog, found baby boomers – defined as those born between 1946 and 1965 – saw on average a 23 per cent decrease in earnings because of the coronavirus crisis. 

This compared to a 19 per cent drop in earnings among millennials – born between 1981 and 2000 – and a 17 per cent reduction for generation X, defined as being born between 1966 and 1980. However, although older workers’ earnings fell more sharply, they were still less likely to be in financial difficulties than their younger counterparts as they tended to have higher incomes to start with and more savings.

12.20pm DW Sports falls into administration leaving 1,700 jobs under threat

Sports retailer and gym group DW Sports has announced it will go into administration after its income was negatively affected by the closure of stores and gyms during lockdown. The company operated 73 gyms and 75 stores across the UK, employing almost 1,700 staff across both sides of the business. 

The retailer announced plans to shut 25 of its stores last month. But the company said it will now wind down its retail business for good, with its website ceasing trading with immediate effect and closing-down sales starting at its 50 remaining stores. It said it plans to protect as many jobs and gyms as possible through the restructuring process. 

11.55am How to support shielding employees as they return to work

Businesses should communicate effectively with their more vulnerable staff, and ensure they prioritise their emotional wellbeing, says Brendan Street.

11.50am What does the government’s latest return to work guidance change?

Melanie Lane and Catherine Taylor look at what recent clarifications from Westminster mean for employers considering bringing workers back to the office.

11.45am London risks no longer being a 'fun' place to work, economist says

London could have lost its aura as a ‘fun’ place to work, particularly in the digital and creative industries, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, according to Pablo Shah, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). “We had a management meeting in the office last Tuesday and were able to see what London looks like as the lockdown eases. To be frank, it looked like a ghost town,” Shah told the Guardian. “London last week did not look very attractive to the talent it needs.”

Since Saturday (1 August), employers in England have been allowed to judge whether staff can safely return to offices, but many are taking a cautious approach. The CEBR has predicted that, in 2021, the ‘new normal’ will be 30 per cent of London-based employees still working at home on any one day, equating to £178m lost spending on lunch, after-work drinks, coffee/tea, snacks, stationery and other office equipment each month, with London faring even worse and the effect on its GDP potentially “a huge multiple of this”, according to Shah.

10.30am Furloughed workers three times as likely to default on a payment, Which? finds

Furloughed workers are three times more likely than other employees to have defaulted on a payment last month, according to a survey by Which? It found that 13 per cent of those furloughed, put on enforced leave or forced to reduce their hours because of the coronavirus crisis have defaulted on at least one payment, compared to 4 per cent of those still working as normal. Additionally, 6 per cent of workers on the scheme reported that they had missed a loan or credit card payment in the previous four weeks. Of those with a mortgage or renting, 5 per cent had already defaulted on a housing payment – twice the default rate for the normally working population.

Richard Piggin, head of campaigns at Which?, said: “Despite extensive action being taken by the government and the banking industry, it’s very worrying that people currently on the furlough scheme have reported experiencing much higher levels of financial difficulty than those who are working as normal. With just a couple of months until the scheme comes to an end, there is real concern that this gap could widen even further.”

9.30am Senior managers forced to take pay cuts, CMI report finds

Just under one-fifth of senior UK managers took pay cuts during the pandemic and almost half said business had suffered as companies were forced to put operations on hold. A poll of almost 2,000 members of the Chartered Management Institute on behalf of the Financial Times showed almost all companies had asked employees to work from home during the crisis and one in five said none of their staff had yet returned. More than a third said they had started to bring workers back to offices and a similar proportion said they would do so before the end of the year. One-fifth reported having to make redundancies and more than two-fifths of those where business had been affected said trading had still not returned to normal. 

9am British Airways pilots vote to accept pay cut and jobs deal

British Airways pilots have voted to accept a deal that will temporarily cut pay by 20 per cent and result in 270 job losses, according to pilots union Balpa. The pay cut will reduce to 8 per cent over two years, eventually returning employees to pre-pandemic pay levels. The union said the deal would also prevent a “fire and rehire” scheme whereby staff were let go and returned on new contracts with “worse conditions”. 

Brian Strutton, general secretary of Balpa, said BA staff made a “pragmatic decision in the circumstances”, but the fact that “we were unable to persuade BA to avoid all compulsory redundancies is bitterly disappointing”. BA proposed to make 12,000 staff redundant, with 1,255 pilot jobs at risk. Balpa said the deal would result in an estimated 270 compulsory redundancies, although it said the number was “likely to fall” as BA would be working with the union to mitigate the impact of the changes.   

8.45am Quarter of Comic Relief staff at risk of redundancy 

Comic Relief has announced it is undergoing a consultation process to manage the fallout of Covid-19, which will result in the charity making 25 per cent of its workforce redundant. The fundraising charity told Third Sector that it was looking to save more than £5m in running costs following the pandemic. It anticipated 60 members of staff would be made redundant following the consultation, which began in early July and will end this month. 

The restructure will impact all levels of staff across Comic Relief and reduce costs by more than £3.2m. Ruth Davison, interim chief executive of Comic Relief, said: “I feel personally responsible for the staff, who I know are very worried about losing their jobs in this economic situation, and many of whom are my friends. I feel accountable for them and worried for them. But ultimately we have to do what is right for the charity beneficiaries and for our funded organisations.”

8.30am British Heart Foundation places 300 jobs at risk 

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has put up to 300 jobs at risk of redundancy as a result of projections that it will lose half of its expected annual income because of the pandemic. The charity announced on Friday (31 July) it would be consulting with staff on cost-saving measures as it said it could take “many years” for its funding to return to pre-pandemic levels. BHF had to close its 750 shops and cancel most fundraising events because of the lockdown. 

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, BHF’s chief executive, said the charity had “left no stone unturned” to find new ways of generating income and reducing costs, but it must consider reducing the size of its workforce. Griffiths added: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision and it will be even harder for those people who may leave our BHF team. We deeply regret the impact this may have on those colleagues who are affected and will explore every avenue to minimise the number of job losses, including through the re-allocation of roles within the organisation.”

Friday 31 July

3.15pm Opening of close-contact businesses delayed for ‘at least a fortnight’

In an update this afternoon, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that planned business reopenings for 1 August would be delayed for “at least a fortnight” due to a spike in cases in the north east of England. 

Venues such as casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks will have to delay opening, and beauty salons will have to postpone offering treatments that involve the face such as eyelash tinting and eyebrow threading. 

Indoor performances will also not resume and pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues and conference centres will not take place. Additionally, the planned expansion of wedding receptions to allow up to 30 people will not be permitted.

1.30pm Charities urge employers not to return shielding staff to work

Shielding workers could find themselves in an “impossible position” from next week, with some employers potentially demanding vulnerable staff return to work before it is safe to do so, an open letter to the chancellor has warned.

With the scheme to protect shielding individuals coming to an end, 15 charities have written to Rishi Sunak warning that workers could be forced to choose between their health and jobs if asked to return. The group, including Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and Diabetes UK, warned that vulnerable employees may be placed at risk of redundancy and called on the government to protect these jobs.

“Our concern is that, especially as [the] furlough arrangements start to unwind and the shielding scheme is paused from next week, some of these workers will find themselves in an impossible position,” the letter stated.

1pm Safeguarding BAME employees when returning to work

Research shows ethnic minorities are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Rebecca Hayes explains how employers can make sure they protect workers going back to the office

9.30am Property agents report signs of remote working revolution

Landlords and property agents report that a mass exodus from UK offices may be on the cards as the coronavirus lockdown drives a remote working revolution. Nine in 10 agents and landlords said they expected companies to scale back on office space in the next two years, with rents set to decline as firms opt for smaller, cheaper sites, according to a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics). The poll showed that more than half of respondents expected more businesses to base themselves in suburban offices rather than city centres. Rics said office rents were likely to fall by between 4 per cent to 7 per cent in the next 12 months, while the dip in demand could see retail rents decline by up to 14 per cent.

Meanwhile a Guardian analysis has shown that many of England’s biggest businesses are set to defy the government’s push to get workers back into offices in August, with many big businesses sticking to home working arrangements or delaying a partial return until September at the earliest. Law firms, insurers, energy providers and tech firms are among those reacting cautiously to the change in government advice, which means from tomorrow (1 August) employers can decide whether staff can safely come back to offices. Some companies, such as Google and NatWest Group, are allowing workers to stay at home until 2021.

9.15am Boeing warns of further job cuts

Boeing, which in May said it would cut 10 per cent of its 160,000 strong workforce, has warned that it is considering further job cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to staff, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said the impact of the pandemic had caused “further reductions in our production rates and lower demand for commercial services, meaning we’ll have to further assess the size of our workforce.” The Chicago-based company had 161,100 workers at the start of the year.

9am Labour launches campaign against ending furlough

Labour has launched a campaign over mass coronavirus job losses, saying the gradual removal of the furlough scheme is a “historic mistake”. Labour leader Keir Starmer will officially launch a ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’ campaign today with a visit to a company in Peterborough. His party will argue that the job retention scheme should be changed so it continues to support the worst-hit industries beyond October. Labour’s plan also calls for an increase in sick pay, investment in new jobs based around green technologies, and more money to help struggling businesses and shops, with particular assistance for areas put into local lockdowns.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, said: “The chancellor’s refusal to abandon his one-size-fits-all withdrawal of furlough is a historic mistake that risks a python-like squeeze on jobs in the worst-hit sectors. The reward for months of hard work and sacrifice by the British people cannot be a P45. It’s not too late for the chancellor to see sense, change course and support the businesses and sectors that need it most. But even if he does, there is still much to do. The government should back viable businesses that are still impacted by coronavirus, support the self-employed and come up with a plan to drive job creation as we emerge from the pandemic.”

8.30am Tui moves hundreds of high street store staff to home working

Tui is to shut 166 stores in the UK and Ireland and shift staff to a home working operation, as the coronavirus pandemic speeds up the trend of booking holidays online rather than on the high street. The store closures would affect 900 staff, the tour operator said, adding that its strategy would save the vast majority from losing their jobs. The company, which specialises in package holidays, said about 630 of the workers affected would move into a remote sales and service team, with some moved to vacancies at its remaining high street stores. UK staff will avoid job cuts, with the remaining 270 roles to be cut through the closure of overseas customer service centres outsourced to third party providers, said Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK & Ireland. “We have world-class advisers at Tui, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value,” he said.

Thursday 30 July

5.25pm Government gives further extension to visas due to expire at the end of the month

The government yesterday announced that it would extend the leave to remain for travellers holding visas that expire at the end of the month – giving people until 31 August to remain in the UK – in a move that has given “some comfort” to businesses and individuals affected.

Those whose visas were due to expire between 24 January and 31 July will have their leave automatically extended, said Chetal Patel, partner at Bates Wells. However, those expecting to stay beyond 31 August were urged to contact the Home Office and ensure they have the right paperwork in place.

“We’ve been eagerly waiting for this latest update and it was right up against the wire with less than three days before the previous concessions were due to lapse,” said Patel. “We’ve seen the impact worldwide on the ever-changing Covid-19 landscape and, while this latest announcement will provide some comfort to those affected, we are still left with unanswered questions.

“It’s clear that the Home Office will have to take a pragmatic approach to considering these applications but we won’t know how this translates in real terms just yet.”

3.30pm Greggs will not pay staff forced into quarantine after Spanish holiday 

Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside has said his company will not pay staff who are forced to quarantine after returning from Spain, according to iNews. The high street bakery boss said this also extended to other destinations taken off the government’s air bridge scheme, and that the firm had been “absolutely explicit” in warning staff about the risks of travelling.

Whiteside said: “You can’t expect the company to pay for your quarantine if you’ve chosen to take the risk that you’d go abroad and then find that you’ve then got to quarantine when you get back. So we won’t be paying for that quarantine.”

1.40pm Furloughed staff guaranteed redundancy pay based on full wages under new law

Employees made redundant while on furlough will be guaranteed redundancy pay based on their normal wage and not their furloughed rate under new legislation. Under the change, furloughed workers would also be entitled to statutory notice pay equivalent to their normal wages, and any future unfair dismissal cases would be based on their full wages rather than pay under the furlough scheme, which can in some cases be substantially lower than an employee’s contracted pay.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said the new rules would ensure employees on the job retention scheme were not “short changed” if made redundant. However, Charles Cotton, senior performance and reward adviser at the CIPD, said it was unclear how big the problem was, or whether it stemmed from employers trying to take advantage of the current situation or a genuine misunderstanding of the complicated and constantly changing furlough rules. Smaller businesses in particular were likely to struggle with understanding and complying with the rules. “It’s important for the government to let employers know what furloughed workers are entitled to,” he said.

1.20pm More than half of workers will continue to work remotely in the short term, poll finds

A survey of businesses has found 52 per cent intend to continue working remotely for the next few months, with just 19 per cent planning to go back to the office on a part-time basis and another 19 per cent going back full time. The poll of 94 organisations, conducted by The Chartered Governance Institute and recruitment firm The Core Partnership, found 90 per cent of respondents felt their employer had effectively communicated about the return to work throughout lockdown.

“It is clear from the responses that many respondents will continue to work remotely for the time being, but envisage having more flexibility about where to work when they do return to the office,” said Peter Swabey, policy and research director at The Chartered Governance Institute.

1pm How can HR encourage staff to socially distance when back at work?

From the beginning of August it will be the responsibility of employers to decide whether employees can safely return to the office. Social distancing will be an important part of keeping staff safe, but adhering to the rules can be difficult. People Management asked employment lawyers and HR professionals for their top tips on encouraging and enforcing social distancing in the workplace.

11.30am Treating BAME staff more harshly could be life threatening in the current climate

Ethnic minority employees are routinely subjected to more formal processes, with repercussions for their progression and wellbeing, argues Tinu Cornish. Data on Covid-19 deaths show that BAME people are more susceptible to the virus, and Cornish argues that going through “a long disciplinary process could literally be life threatening in the present climate”.

9.40am National Trust looks to make 1,200 redundancies

The National Trust could make up to 1,200 redundancies as part of a plan to save £100m this year because of the coronavirus outbreak. Announcing the start of its consultation process today, the charity said it had been hit hard by the lockdown, which forced it to close all its houses, gardens, shops and cafes, and put a stop to events. The charity’s director general, Hilary McGrady, said that even with the savings, ongoing social distancing measures and the expected hit on revenue meant a full review of the organisation's spending priorities.

“It is deeply upsetting to face losing colleagues and we are committed to supporting all of those affected. Sadly, we have no other course of action left open,” said McGrady. “In making these changes now, I am confident we will be well-placed to face the challenges ahead, protecting the places that visitors love and ensuring our conservation work continues long into the future.”

Wednesday 29 July

5pm Barclays boss wants employees to return to the office 

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley has indicated he wants employees currently working from home because of the pandemic to return to the office “over time”, according to a BBC report. The banking boss, who had previously suggested big city offices may be a thing of the past, said it was important to get people back together in “physical concentrations”. "We want our people back together, to make sure we ensure the evolution of our culture and our controls, and I think that will happen over time," he said.

Barclays currently has 60,000 employees working remotely, with another 20,000 in offices, branches and call centres.

1.40pm When should employers repay furlough grants?

With some firms choosing to give back their job retention scheme payments amid reputational risk, Sungjin Park explains what organisations should consider. 

1.30pm Three in five employers have cancelled work experience because of Covid-19, research reveals

A YouGov poll of 1,005 HR decision makers in British businesses, conducted as part of the Sutton Trust’s latest Covid-19 impact brief, found 61 per cent of employers have cancelled some or all of their work experience and internship placements, including half (49 per cent) of SMEs and almost a third (29 per cent) of larger employers.

The survey also found that almost half (48 per cent) of these employers expected there would be fewer work experience opportunities in their businesses over the next year, while 39 per cent of graduate employers reported they were likely to hire fewer or no graduates at all over the same time period.

11am Over-65s see biggest drop in hours worked since the pandemic

The average number of hours worked by the over-65s in employment fell from 20.2 between January and March this year to 16.1 between March and May – a drop of 20.3 per cent, according to Rest Less. Analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics by the jobs site also found that 18 to 24-year-olds were “very close behind”, with the number of hours worked by this demographic falling from 28.2 hours per person between January and March this year to 22.5 between March and May – a drop of 20.2 per cent.

Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, called on the government to introduce a programme similar to the furlough scheme specifically aimed at protecting older workers. “All age groups have seen a drop in the average number of hours worked in the last three months but data shows that the over-65s are the most impacted group, likely because of the number of people in this age group who have had to shield or self-isolate,” he said.

9.50am Offices ‘important’ for work-life balance, says PwC boss

The boss of one of the big five accountancy firms has said offices are an important part of getting the right work-life balance, and that virtual tools are “no substitute for human contact”. Writing in the Financial Times, Kevin Ellis, chairman of PwC, said that while lockdown has proved to some that office workers can work just as effectively from home, “it has proved to me the importance of offices to the work-life balance equation… Teams need to come together, people need to coach others and ideas need to be developed with clients in a face-to-face environment.”

Defending his decision to reopen all of PwC’s UK offices and encourage staff back to work, Ellis added that a return to the workplace would also support shops and restaurants near the firm’s headquarters.

Tuesday 28 July

3pm High street retailer Selfridges to cut 450 jobs

Department store Selfridges has become the latest UK high street retailer to make redundancies amid the coronavirus pandemic, announcing its “toughest decision” to cut 450 jobs. 

Group managing director Anne Pitcher said the cuts, which represent 14 per cent of its workforce, are a direct result of how coronavirus has changed the way people “work, shop and socialise”. A consultation period with staff who opted for voluntary redundancy is already underway, but the Guardian reported other options are also being considered, including reducing employee working hours and offering employees career breaks.

2pm What qualities do leaders need for an increasingly VUCA world?

Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – VUCA was coined by the US Army War College in the 1990s to describe a new world of military engagement at the end of the cold war. The acronym has been embraced by business leaders as it provides a practical code for awareness and business readiness to view the challenges organisations are facing in today’s world. The recent pandemic has reignited the commentary about the initialism, and Opemipo Koshemani argues curiosity, creativity and critical thinking will all be crucial traits as organisations tackle a new normal post Covid-19.

1.40pm The impact of increased home working on HR

With the coronavirus pandemic and consequential lockdown forcing many to work from home, the question arises as to whether working from home will become the new normal. Although lockdown measures have started to relax, many employers are seeing their staff either wanting to continue working from home, if possible, or refusing to come back to the office. Chris Cook explores whether working remotely will become the status quo, and how it will change the role of the people profession.

1.30pm Redundancy FAQs: how to run a fair process

Making redundancies is never easy, but following a proper process can help businesses avoid legal and reputational risk. People Management asks experts for guidance on some key questions, including on making a justifiable case, selection criteria and avoiding reputational damage.

9.40am British Airways staff threaten strike over restructure plan

Union Unite has warned British Airways that it plans to launch a strike over the airline’s plans to restructure in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC has reported. In April, IAG, which owns BA, announced plans to cut around 12,000 jobs and renegotiate the terms of the employment contracts of the remaining staff – warning that if an arrangement on contracts could not be reached, employees could be given their notice and rehired on new terms.

The change in contract could see BA staff take a pay cut and a move to less favourable terms and conditions. Unite, which represents thousands of BA workers, accused the airline of operating a ‘fire and rehire’ policy. BA said Unite’s position was “disappointing” and that it was doing everything it could to save jobs.

The aviation industry has been one of the worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with other large firms including easyJet, Rolls-Royce and Airbus all announcing job losses. 

9.30am Ratio of unemployment benefit claimants to vacancies soars during outbreak

The ratio of the number of people claiming unemployment benefits to the number of job vacancies has increased fivefold since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, figures from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and published in the Guardian have shown. The IES has estimated there are now eight people claiming support for every one job opening, compared to 1.5 people per job opening in March.

Monday 27 July 

3.20pm G4S to cut more than a quarter of jobs in cash-handling business

G4S has announced that it will cut more than a quarter of jobs in its cash-handling business, Cash Solutions UK, because of a fall in cash transactions during the coronavirus crisis, as the government and businesses have been encouraging shoppers to pay by card or contactless. 

The security firm has started a consultation process that could result in 1,150 redundancies across the UK and Ireland, with drivers of armoured vehicles carrying cash for business thought to be among those at risk. The company has said it hopes to find alternative jobs within G4S for those affected by the cuts.

G4S Cash Solutions UK managing director Paul van der Knaap said: “Regrettably, this [restructure] will result in a reduction in headcount and today we have entered into a period of consultation with affected staff.”

1.45pm The importance of apprenticeships to the UK’s long-term recovery

Employers need to ensure the training and development of the UK’s young talent doesn’t stall as the country recovers from the pandemic. Apprenticeship programmes are an important part of this, providing a learning structure and valuable work experience that can help nurture skills and foster future business leaders, argue Justine Campbell and Laura Keen.

1.30pm Half of mums made redundant during Covid-19 cite lack of childcare, study reveals

Just under half (46 per cent) of mothers made redundant or expecting to be made redundant during the Covid-19 crisis say lack of childcare provision played a role, a study of nearly 20,000 mothers and pregnant women has found. The poll, by Pregnant Then Screwed, showed that many mothers faced reduced working hours because of childcare issues, with 72 per cent forced to cut back to care for children.

Joeli Brearley, chief executive and founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said the lack of childcare was “destroying women’s careers”. “They are being made redundant, they are being forced to cut their hours and they are being treated negatively all because they are picking up the unpaid labour required to keep the country going,” she said.

Of the employed mothers surveyed, four-fifths (81 per cent) said they needed childcare to be able to work, but half (51 per cent) did not have the necessary childcare in place to enable them to do their job during lockdown. The poll also found one in 10 (11 per cent) women on maternity leave had been made or expected to be made redundant. Of these women, 70 per cent were black, 27 per cent disabled and 47 per cent single mothers.

12.45pm Third of workers want a vaccine or antibody test before returning to work, poll finds

More than one in three workers want a Covid-19 vaccine or antibody test to be ready before they return to the workplace, a survey of 2,000 workers conducted by Canada Life has found. Of those respondents working from home since the start of lockdown, 35 per cent said they would like a vaccine or antibody test to be available before coming back to the physical workplace.

Nearly one in five (18 per cent) said they wanted regular temperature checks, 21 per cent wanted coronavirus testing in the office, and 22 per cent wanted office spaces to be rearranged to better facilitate social distancing.

Paul Avis, strategic proposition director at Canada Life, said it was not surprising that workers were anxious about returning to the workplace. “After such a long period of time working from home, many of us have developed new ways of working and fallen into new routines,” he said.

11.50am Employers urged not to penalise workers caught by Spanish quarantine rules

The UK has removed Spain from its quarantine exemption list, meaning travellers returning from the country now have to self-isolate for two weeks. The government has urged employers to be “understanding” of workers caught by the sudden change in the rules – which came into force yesterday – and who now have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return. However, it stopped short of making any provisions to protect workers unable to work during this period.

Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, said employers will have to agree to a period of home working, further annual leave or a period of unpaid leave with employees unable to work because they are self-isolating. In a string of tweets, Holcroft added that statutory sick pay was not payable for this type of isolation. “Advice is changing weekly; keep checking the current situation in case it changes before staff come back, and also for other countries being added/removed from the list,” he said.

9am Beauty salons and tattoo parlours reopen in Wales

Wales has officially reopened beauty salons and tattoo parlours today as a result of the easing of lockdown restrictions. Nail bars, spas and tanning shops can also open their doors, but customers may have to wait longer for facials and eyebrow and eyelash treatments as guidelines warn they are too high risk. 

Welsh government guidance strongly advises beauticians against performing facial treatments, but states that if they choose to perform them they must wear a fluid resistant surgical face mask, goggles, disposable gloves and an apron, and be fully trained in using personal protective equipment safely.

Friday 24 July

1.40pm School closures could impact future workforce for generations, study warns

School time lost because of the coronavirus pandemic could hurt the UK economy for decades, a study has warned, with many young people losing out on critical skills and growth in the future. The research said the disruption to lessons will have a negative impact on the future skills of the workforce for the next 50 years, costing billions in a reduced growth rate.

The report, compiled by Delve, a multi-disciplinary group brought together by the Royal Society, has called on the government to prioritise reopening schools and getting students back into education to mitigate the effects on the future workforce. It said there is a “huge base of evidence” showing that earnings are linked to education and skills, meaning losing out on school time would have negative economic consequences for future generations. Without action from the government, it estimated that around a quarter of the UK’s workforce will have lower skills well into the 2080s. 

1.10pm Employers’ hiring confidence improves for the first time since lockdown

Employers’ hiring confidence has improved for the first time since February as lockdown measures are eased, according to a poll of businesses. The latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that the majority of 200 businesses polled were positive about hiring and investment decisions for the first time since lockdown.

Of the employers polled, 32 per cent said they expected their organisation’s confidence in hiring to improve, compared to 28 per cent who expected it to worsen. This put the REC’s hiring confidence score –  which subtracts the percentage of businesses that are not confident about making hiring and investment decisions from the percentage that are – reached +4 in the first half of July, up from -9 in June, indicating that, on balance, hiring outlook had improved.

12.50pm Employers must act to restore their workforce’s mental wellbeing

To mitigate the psychological health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, organisations need to take proactive steps now, says Louise Abbs.

12.30pm Alzheimer's Society warns of up to 300 job cuts

The Alzheimer’s Society is expecting to have to make up to 300 roles redundant, which represents 20 per cent of its workforce, because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the organisation. The charity estimated the pandemic would result in a £45m loss of income over the next financial year. In a statement, the Alzheimer's Society said a workforce change programme was underway to decide a timescale for potential job losses. 

It also said the charity would be considering how to deliver as much impact as possible while spending significantly less money including increasing its digital offering. The Alzheimer's Society said it would also be reviewing its property portfolio to see if it can manage operations with less office accommodation. 

11.50am Quarter of Jersey firms expect to make job cuts

A quarter of businesses in Jersey say they will employ fewer people by the end of summer as three-quarters say their profits have slumped since the beginning of the pandemic, according to research. The data, compiled by Statistics Jersey, found the financial sector  – one of the largest sectors in Jersey – reported 49 per cent of firms had seen a fall in profits. As a result, 16 per cent of finance firms expected to lay off staff between now and September, compared to 27 per cent of non-finance businesses. 

The data also found 100 per cent of businesses in the hospitality industry reported their profits were down, 85 per cent were employing fewer people and 85 per cent were pessimistic about their future. The survey found 34 per cent of businesses in Jersey had asked employees to work reduced hours because of the pandemic, while just 3 per cent recruited new staff to their business. 

9.20am Blood Cancer UK proposes cutting quarter of workforce

Blood Cancer UK has proposed cutting more than a quarter of its workforce as it prepares to face an anticipated loss of 40 per cent of its income. According to reports by Third Sector, the charity is facing a £6m drop in incoming funds because of the pandemic, and there are concerns it could take another three years for income to return to previous levels. 

Blood Cancer UK furloughed 40 per cent of its staff in response to the pandemic and cut operational costs by £2m. But chief executive Gemma Peters said "none of this was enough", and it became "inevitable" that Blood Cancer UK would "face a difficult decision about the size and shape of our charity". Peters added: "It’s only a proposal at the moment, and over the next month I want to hear the thoughts of the team about how we can improve it. But it’s clear that we’ll lose a significant number of brilliant, dedicated, people."

8.20am Cinemas, museums and beauty salons to reopen from Monday in Wales

Cinemas, museums and beauty salons in Wales can reopen from Monday (27 July), Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed. Face coverings on public transport, including taxis will also be made compulsory for anyone over the age of 11 on the same day. Drakeford said people will need to get used to "some changes" to help protect themselves and workers in the reopening businesses. 

He said: "This may mean having to book ahead or giving our details to the places we are visiting, to help our test, trace, protect service, in the event there's an outbreak of coronavirus. It's the responsibility of all of us to follow these new rules so we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe."

8am Dyson to cut 900 jobs

Dyson has announced it will make 900 roles redundant in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The company said about 600 jobs will be cut in the UK, with a further 300 expected worldwide. Dyson said the Covid-19 crisis had "accelerated changes in consumer behaviour" which resulted in the company wanting to become "faster, more agile and better able to grow sustainably". However, it said this change would come at the cost of almost 900 job cuts worldwide. 

7.40am Construction firm Bellway starts redundancy talks with 175 staff

House builder Bellway has started redundancy talks with staff over plans to cut around 175 roles across the business. The plan would see nearly 6 per cent of the firm's 3,000-strong workforce made redundant. A spokesperson for Bellway said the firm had to put a "small number of roles" at risk of redundancy due the impact of the pandemic and subsequent reduction in production it has caused.

They said: "The new safer way of working on site along with the introduction of social distancing measures has slowed the build process and subsequently had a negative impact on the amount of units we are able to complete. This, alongside the current economic uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought has meant we have reviewed our business model to ensure we remain fit for the future."

7.10am New face covering rules come into force in England

Face coverings are now compulsory for customers in enclosed public spaces such as supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, transport hubs, banks and takeaways. Venues such as restaurants, pubs, cinemas, hairdressers and gyms will be exempt from the legislation. Police can hand out fines of up to £100 to those who do not comply.

Some retailers said they will not expect staff to enforce the new rule. Sainsbury's and Costa said staff will not be expected to challenge customers who enter their stores without masks, while Asda said enforcement was the "responsibility of the relevant authorities". Waitrose said it will have staff stationed at shop entrances to remind customers of the rule, and Tesco will be selling face coverings at shop entrances. Greggs and McDonalds said takeaway customers need to wear masks.

Thursday 23 July

4.20pm Guidance on face coverings in England’s shops released before new rules 

As of tomorrow face coverings will be mandatory in enclosed public spaces in England, including supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, transport hubs, banks and post offices. Rule-breakers will face a fine of up to £100, according to a BBC report, but there are exemptions for children under 11 and those with disabilities or health conditions that make it difficult to wear a face covering. 

Shop workers will not have to wear face coverings but the government has said it “strongly” recommends that employers consider their use where appropriate. Businesses are encouraged to promote the use of masks with signs, but ultimately the onus falls on individuals to follow the rules. While police have powers to enforce the rules, this will be done as a last resort and officers will not patrol premises. 

2.10pm Quarter of women asked to dress more provocatively for video meetings, survey finds

Employers are asking female employees to dress ‘sexier’ and wear make-up during video meetings, research has found. Contrary to expectations that remote working could reduce the number of reported incidents of sexist behaviour, research from law firm Slater and Gordon suggested sexism has found “new and insidious ways to thrive online” since the start of the outbreak.

In a poll of 2,000 office-based staff working from home during the pandemic, 35 per cent of women reported experiencing at least one sexist demand from their employer since lockdown started in March, with the most common offence being inappropriate comments about the way they dressed for video meetings.

2.05pm Why we need to build better workplaces for everyone after Covid-19

The government has pledged to create opportunities for good work as the economy recovers from coronavirus, but they must extend to all types of worker, says Sir Brendan Barber.

2pm Warship will not reopen until 2021 owing to funding shortfall, job cuts possible

World War I warship HMS Caroline will not reopen to the public until 2021 because of a funding shortfall, the operator has said, with further warnings that jobs could be cut if the situation worsens. The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), which operates the vessel, said the pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures left a shortfall of £6.35m and claimed a funding agreement could not be reached with the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy. The NMRN warned jobs could be lost if the situation was not resolved quickly. 

Dominic Tweddle, director general of NMRN, said staff salaries had been supported under the coronavirus job retention scheme. But he warned “those jobs will have to be made redundant” if HMS Caroline cannot open before next year. 

1.40pm Burrito chain Chilango prepares to enter administration

Burrito dining chain Chilango has said it is planning to call in administrators as its business had been hard hit by the lockdown. The collapse could lead to the closure of Chilango's 12 restaurants, with a potential loss of 152 jobs. Chilango said it was looking for a buyer, but the outlook for its future was still unknown as a result of the impact the coronavirus crisis had put on the food industry. 

It said: "During this period we have done our very best to mitigate the pandemic’s impact, operating as much as is safely possible while implementing the various government support measures available. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been sufficient to secure the future of our business."

1pm Majority of eligible restaurants yet to sign up for government's 'eat out to help out' scheme

Only a quarter of cafes, pubs and restaurants eligible to register for the government's ‘eat out to help out’ scheme have done so, according to official data. Figures from HMRC revealed only 32,362 of the 130,000 eligible restaurants, pubs and cafes have signed up since registration opened on 13 July. The scheme, which was unveiled by chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this month, was designed to boost the struggling hospitality industry and support 1.8 million jobs in the sector. 

Cafe retailer Costa is the latest to announce it had registered with the scheme – which starts in August – joining other major chains including Burger King, McDonald's, Harvester, Nando's and Pizza Hut. A spokesperson for HMRC said: “Although restaurants and establishments can register now for the scheme, some may choose not to register until the scheme is launched to the public. Businesses are working hard to ensure their premises are Covid-safe and have plenty of time to sign up. HMRC anticipates a high level of take-up but respects that some restaurants may not choose to take part.”

12.40pm British Airways pilots vote on deal to cut jobs and pay

British Airways pilots are to vote on a deal struck between management and union Balpa that would involve at least 270 jobs being axed and the remainder taking pay cuts of up to 20 per cent. Balpa said it was "hugely disappointing" the airline had not taken up proposals that would have avoided compulsory redundancies. BA sought to lay off up to 12,000 employees – including 1,255 pilots – as a result of the pandemic's impact on the airline industry. 

Now, pilots must vote on a package that includes voluntary redundancy deals and part-time working options. Additionally, there are proposals for a ‘holding pool’ of pilots on reduced pay who will be re-employed by BA if and when demand picks up. Their wages will be funded by cuts to their colleagues' pay. Pilots would take an initial 20 per cent reduction, which would taper to 8 per cent below current levels in two years. 

8.50am Northern Ireland government to discuss face coverings in shops

Ministers for the Northern Ireland Executive will meet to discuss the wearing of face coverings in shops, according to reports by the BBC, but it may stop short of making them compulsory. Face coverings are already mandatory for anyone visiting shops in Scotland and will become compulsory for shops in England from Friday (24 July). Ministers will consider a paper from the Department of Health, which details advice from Dr Michael McBride, Northern Ireland's chief medical officer, who supports making face masks compulsory in shops. 

The BBC said ministers will also consider the view of the retail sector, which fears the move could damage trade and be difficult to enforce. Currently, guidelines in Northern Ireland state the wearing of face coverings is only compulsory on public transport, going to hospitals or visiting care homes. 

8am Majority of Caledonian Hotel jobs under review

The majority of jobs at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh are under review as a result of the ongoing strain the pandemic has put on the hospitality sector. The Caledonian Waldorf Astoria Hotel said it needed to cut 65 full-time roles as well as amalgamate and change the working hours of a further 135 jobs. The Hilton, which operates the hotel, said it had tried everything to mitigate the impact of the lockdown, but it had started a consultation process with workers on Monday (21 July).

A spokeswoman for Hilton said the firm was having to make "some very difficult decisions about our future structure", adding: "Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges for our industry and, with social distancing measures and travel restrictions remaining in place, it is unlikely we will get back to normal operations for some time." The Caledonian Hotel has 290 staff in total, including some casual workers. 

7.30am Government 'too slow to help at-risk arts', say MPs

The government has been too slow to respond to the "existential threat" facing the entertainment and live arts sector, a committee of MPs has said. The House of Commons culture select committee said the coronavirus pandemic poses the biggest threat to live theatre, music and other culture businesses in a generation. Julian Knight, MP and chair of the committee, said the government's £1.57bn support package for employers in the arts sector was "nothing more than an Elastoplast over a gaping wound". 

Knight said the sector needed "not just a bailout" but a “long-term plan" that would enable it to "come out on the other side" of the pandemic. The committee said the cultural industries were likely to face mass redundancies in the coming months. The pandemic would also have a lasting impact on opportunities for workers and diversity in these businesses. 

Wednesday 22 July

1.50pm Women providing two-thirds more childcare than men during lockdown, ONS finds

Women delivered 78 minutes more childcare a day than men during the first weeks of lockdown, the latest official figures have shown. During the first weeks of lockdown (26 March to 26 April) in households with children under 18, women were carrying out an average of two-thirds more childcare duties per day than men, the latest Office for National Statistics data suggested.

The data showed that women spent 77 per cent more time on childcare than men overall, as women were also undertaking non-developmental childcare such as feeding, washing, dressing and supervising children. Women provided an average of three hours and 18 minutes of childcare overall (including supervision) per day, while men provided two hours.

12.50pm Firms still operating at half pre-Covid capacity, survey finds

Companies are still operating at half their pre-coronavirus capacity despite the easing of lockdown measures, a survey of employers has found. The poll of 750 businesses, conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce and Indeed, found companies were operating at 53 per cent capacity, with the majority citing consumer demand and possible future local lockdowns as obstacles to fully restarting operations (54 and 52 per cent respectively). Almost a third (30 per cent) said other business costs, such as rent or salaries, were a major hurdle.

Following the introduction of the flexible furlough scheme at the start of this month, the survey also found just under a third (31 per cent) of firms had furloughed staff on a part-time basis, although the majority (56 per cent) still have employees furloughed full time. Additionally, one in 10 (13 per cent) had made staff redundant since the beginning of the crisis, and a third (33 per cent) planned to start making redundancies over the next three months.

12pm Keeping up with legislation amid Covid-19

Katherine Maxwell outlines why it’s essential for employers to stay on top of government guidance during the coronavirus crisis.

7.20am Beauticians, nail salons, colleges and tattoo parlours reopen in Scotland

Scotland continues with its phased map out of lockdown as beauty salons, tattoo parlours and a variety of businesses are able to reopen today (22 July). Salons, tattoo parlours and tailors can reopen to the public as long as enhanced hygiene measures are in place. Additionally, universities and colleges will be able to introduce a phased return to on-campus learning.   

These latest measures follow first minister Nicola Sturgeon's Phase 3 of easing the lockdown restrictions in Scotland. Indoor pubs, cafes and restaurants reopened for the first time in almost four months on 15 July, as did hairdressers, barber shops, holiday accommodation and places of worship for communal prayer. However, many businesses have yet to be given the go-ahead for reopening, including theatres, indoor gyms, non-essential offices and call centres. 

Tuesday 21 July

5.20pm Southbank Centre and Royal Opera House announce redundancies 

Some of the UK’s most iconic arts venues have announced redundancies as the virus continues to negatively impact financial stability of the industry. IQ Magazine reported that London’s Southbank Centre is set to make two-thirds of its staff redundant despite furloughing the majority of its 600 employees. 

The Royal Opera House (ROH) has also announced it will lay off its entire casual workforce.The exact figure is yet to be confirmed, but ROH said in a statement that all casual contracts have been terminated and a process of voluntary redundancy among other staff members is already underway. 

Additionally the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) has announced that it will make 5 per cent of its workforce redundant, the bulk of which will be those based in its head offices in London and Woking. However, its zero-hours contract workers will continue to be supported by the furlough scheme for the foreseeable future. 

3.50pm Beefeaters at the Tower of London face redundancy for the first time in 500 years

Beefeaters are at risk of redundancy as a result of the impact of coronavirus on the UK’s tourism industry. John Barnes, head of the Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) charity that runs the Tower, told the Metro it had “no choice” but to reduce payroll costs of the 37 Yeoman Warders. 

The Tower of London reopened this month after closing amid the pandemic, and at least two Beefeaters who guard the crown jewels are said to have taken voluntary redundancies. However, HRP has warned that compulsory redundancies will be enforced as its visitor numbers dropped from three million last year to fewer than 1,000 because of social distancing rules.

2.50pm LinkedIn cuts 960 jobs globally as pandemic hits corporate hiring

LinkedIn has announced it will cut about 960 jobs worldwide as fewer firms recruit staff amid the Covid-19 crisis. The cuts will affect about 6 per cent of the company's global workforce and could include its UK office. LinkedIn employs more than 16,000 people across 30 sites around the world. 

In a message posted online, chief executive Ryan Roslansky said these were the only job cuts the firm was planning. He said LinkedIn was "not immune to the effects of the global pandemic", and the business had been negatively impacted as "fewer companies, including ours, need to hire at the same volume they did previously". He added employees in Ireland, the UK and Australia had already begun consultation about the potential impact on their jobs. 

2.20pm Almost a third of jobs at Edinburgh Airport at risk

Almost a third of jobs at Edinburgh Airport are at risk of being cut because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, trade unions have warned. In a joint letter to the first minister, Edinburgh Airport and Unite said 2,000 of the airport's 7,000 jobs could go as a result of the pandemic. During the first minister's questions this morning (21 July), Nicola Sturgeon was asked if she had spoken with the union and airport since the letter was sent last week. 

Sturgeon said the letter "will be responded to fully" and that aviation was "one sector of many that is under severe pressure because of the pandemic". She added: "I am very mindful of that in the decisions we take, and you can see that in the care we have taken over decisions, such as over air bridges, but my primary focus right now is keeping this virus under control." 

1.50pm High-paid employees most likely to be able to work from home, official data shows

Employees in higher-paying jobs are more likely to be able to work from home, according to official data. Analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found people who earn higher hourly wages were more likely to be able to work remotely during the pandemic. This included chief executives and senior officials, whose median earnings were £44.08 an hour, and legal professionals at £39.48 per hour.

According to its analysis, the ONS said professional occupations such as economists and actuaries alongside management, technical and administrative jobs were most likely to be done from home. This was primarily because the roles involved relatively little face-to-face contact, physical activity or the use of tools or equipment. However, low-paid occupations including cleaners, waiting staff and security guards alongside frontline workers were least likely to be able to work from home because of the physical nature of their work. 

12.50pm Leeds Castle to start redundancy process

Historic attraction Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, Kent, has confirmed it has begun a redundancy consultation as it faces a "financial black hole" as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Leeds Castle said it is looking to cut 62 roles across 15 areas of the charity that runs the historic venue. Despite lockdown restrictions being eased in recent weeks, bosses said the limits on visitor numbers and the reduced length of the summer tourist season meant costs had to be reduced ahead of winter. 

Robin Richman, chief executive of Leeds Castle, said the organisation is "very close" so starting a redundancy consultation "has been a difficult decision". He added: "But we have to be realistic about the impact on our finances and do everything we can to safeguard the charity and the historic assets it is there to protect and preserve." 

11.55am After lockdown, businesses will need to be more human than ever

Working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for organisations to demonstrate their emotional qualities, says Arran Heal.

11.15am Bowel Cancer UK announces redundancy consultation

Charity Bowel Cancer UK has announced it will begin consulting with its staff on potential redundancies after a “huge loss of income” caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with up to 40 per cent of its 62 staff potentially at risk.

Chief executive Genevieve Edwards said: “We’re a small yet vital charity supporting thousands of people affected by bowel cancer, and we have lost around 40 per cent of our income practically overnight.     

“We moved swiftly at the start of the pandemic to safeguard our charity and, despite the challenges, have remained focused on meeting the needs of people with bowel cancer throughout. I'm so proud of how we’ve been able to pivot our services quickly and innovate in difficult circumstances to make a real difference to people when they need us most. But with a huge drop in income, and no other government assistance, we’re now sadly in a position where we have no choice but to make permanent cuts to our staff base, which is devastating for everyone at the charity and the bowel cancer community. ”

9.10am RBS staff to work from home until next year

Nearly 50,000 UK-based staff for Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group have been told they will not return to the office until 2021, despite the prime minister saying employers should encourage people back into the workplace from August. RBS said the "vast majority" of employees who are working from home will continue to do so until next year. It had previously said staff would work remotely until at least the end of September.

RBS told its employees that its priority was to look after the safety and wellbeing of employees and customers. It said: "Like we've done throughout the pandemic, the decision has been made carefully, including considering the latest guidance from the UK government on Friday and our own health and safety standards and procedures." 

8.30am 'Few, if any' cinemas in Wales will reopen next week, trade body warns

Cinemas in Wales are unlikely to reopen on time next week because of the restrictions on how they operate, according to trade body the UK Cinema Association (UKCA). Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UKCA, said "few, if any" will reopen as planned on 27 July because current government guidance says cinemas will not be able to sell any food if they open on that date. Additionally, the Welsh government has not eased any social distancing rules, which Clapp argued will make it hard for cinemas to operate. 

The UKCA estimates 95 per cent of cinema staff across the UK were put on the furlough scheme. Currently, Wales is the only part of the UK where cinemas have been given a date to reopen. Clapp said: "Clearly, we've not spoken to all cinemas in Wales, but we suspect that few, if any, will feel able to open at that time. It's a conversation that is ongoing."

8.10am Make face masks compulsory in GP surgeries, BMA urges

Face masks should be compulsory in GP surgeries to minimise the spread of Covid-19, the British Medical Association (BMA) has urged. The BMA said requiring people to cover their face while in shops or on public transport – but not in a GP’s office – "makes no sense" and is "illogical". Last month, the government said all hospital staff, as well as anyone visiting a hospital, should cover their face, but this has not been extended to GP practices. 

The BMA has called on the government to change the law to make wearing a face covering mandatory "in all situations where physical distancing of more than two metres is not possible", including GP surgeries. Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA's GP committee said: "It makes no sense that the government has introduced one measure for shops and public transport, while other indoor spaces, including GP practices, are exempt. This virus is just as infectious in a practice as it is in a shop or on a bus."

7.20am Pay rise for almost 900,000 public sector workers

Almost 900,000 public sector workers will be given an above-inflation pay rise, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced, for their work on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury said teachers in England will see the largest pay increase in 2020/21 at 3.1 per cent, and dentists and doctors across the UK will receive a 2.8 per cent pay increase. Police, prison officers and National Crime Agency staff in England and Wales will be given a 2.5 per cent rise in pay, while members of the armed forces across the UK will get 2 per cent. 

Sunak said the pay rises follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies, adding: “These past months have underlined what we always knew – that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them." The pay awards for the armed forces, prison officers, senior civil servants and NHS staff will be backdated to April, whereas the pay rise for police and teachers starts in September owing to those professions operating on a different pay schedule.

Monday 20 July

5.40pm Large employers turn down job retention bonus

John Lewis, Primark and Rightmove are among a number of employers who have said they will not accept the job retention bonus offered by the chancellor in his summer statement earlier this month. Rishi Sunak had offered employers £1,000 for every employee on furlough who is returned to work and remains employed until January in a bid to prevent a spike in joblessness as the job retention scheme comes to an end.

However, some firms have said they do not need the money. In a statement, Rightmove said that now the housing market has reopened across parts of the UK, the firm would be able to return all furloughed workers and would not be needing to make use of the bonus scheme. Similarly, Primark said it would not be necessary for them to make use of the scheme.

5.30pm Delivery firm Hermes to create more than 10,000 jobs

The delivery company Hermes has said it will create 10,500 UK jobs, including 1,500 full time roles and 9,000 freelance courier roles, to meet an increase in demand caused by the growth in online shopping, the BBC has reported.

Martijn de Lange, CEO of Hermes, said the pandemic had “expedited the already phenomenal growth” in online shopping, and that the firm had already received thousands of applications from staff in industries including hospitality and aviation who had lost their jobs at the start of lockdown.

1.40pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Acorn Early Years Foundation

Kieran Glackin, HR manager for Acorn Early Years Foundation, shares how preparation and communication were key in helping the childcare provider manage a Covid-19 outbreak within its workforce.

1.20pm Retailers call for licensing scheme to protect garment factory workers

Retailers and MPs have written to the government calling for the introduction of a licensing scheme for garment factories in the wake of mounting evidence of unethical employment practices in Leicester. The letter, signed by Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, outlined a plan for statutory licensing of garment factories and owners that would, at a minimum, protect workers from forced labour and debt bondage and unsafe working conditions, and ensure the payment of the national minimum wage, national insurance contributions and holiday pay.

It comes in response to reports that garment factories in Leicester, allegedly supplying online fashion retailer boohoo and others, were paying workers as little as £3.50 and hour – far below the minimum wage – and forcing employees to work in unsafe conditions and without PPE despite the risk of coronavirus. Leicester was one of the coronavirus hotspots earlier this month, and was the first area to be subjected to a ‘local lockdown’, which is only due to start easing from 24 July.

12.15pm How has coronavirus affected tribunals?

Covid-19 has caused a huge backlog of employment cases. Melissa Chuttur considers whether this has brought any benefits for businesses. 

9.20am Marks and Spencer ‘to cut hundreds of jobs’

Marks and Spencer (M&S) is reportedly planning to cut hundreds of jobs this week in response to the Covid-19 crisis’s impact on the UK high street. An announcement about job losses could come within days, Sky News reported, with total redundancies potentially reaching several thousand when existing restructuring plans are taken into account. M&S’s food shops remained open throughout lockdown but trading in other parts of the business was severely reduced, with clothing sales down by 84 per cent year on year at the lowest point, the company said in May. The retailer furloughed approximately 27,000 of its 78,000 employees during lockdown. Many have returned to work, but chief executive Steve Rowe warned of permanent changes to shopping habits.

9.15am Ted Baker to axe 500 jobs

Fashion retailer Ted Baker is to cut at least 500 jobs – a quarter of its UK workforce – as the pandemic continues to severely impact the high street. It is understood that about 200 of the roles will go at the retailer’s London headquarters, with the remainder from its shops and store concessions. A spokesperson for the company said “as part of [the brand’s] continuing transformation plan, we have been assessing the appropriate level of staffing across our business and are in consultation with affected colleagues”. Both part-time and full-time roles will be affected.

These latest losses come on top of 160 already announced in February. Those reductions, predominantly affecting office workers, were described as the first stage of a restructuring designed to put the business back on track. In January this year, the company had a UK workforce of 2,025.

9am Avon reports surge in new reps

Cosmetics company Avon has reported a 114 per cent “surge” in the number of new representatives joining its UK business since lockdown began. The firm said the pandemic had prompted many people to look for new ways of earning cash, and that, amid a looming jobs crisis, growing numbers were on the hunt for opportunities to supplement their income. Angela Cretu, Avon’s chief executive, said: “As the recession tightens its grasp on communities in the wake of Covid-19, people are looking for new ways to earn.” She added that the company was preparing for “a tidal wave” of new sign-ups.

8.30am Staff in no rush to return to the office, research shows

Fewer than one in six workers has returned to the office, according to Centre for Cities analysis of mobile phone data on behalf of The Times. In London, only one worker in eight has gone back; in the City, only 800 of Goldman Sachs’ 6,000 London staff have returned, while fewer than 2,000 of the 12,000 at JPMorgan are back. The data suggested Basildon in Essex has seen the highest proportion of staff go back at 49 per cent, and Edinburgh the least at 12 per cent. It showed workers in the biggest cities were least likely to have returned amid fears over the risk of long commutes on public transport. The 10 biggest cities have seen only 14 per cent of staff go back, compared with 30 per cent in cities such as Gloucester, where workers are much more likely to drive to the office. 

EY, which employs 17,000 people in the UK, has said it will reopen its offices from 7 September but capacity will be “significantly reduced” and employees will return on a voluntary basis with a desk booking system. PwC, however, is set to increase its office presence from 15 per cent to more than 50 per cent by September. 

Friday 17 July

5.10pm Return to work rings alarm bells for disabled workers, says charity 

A disability charity has raised concerns about the government’s call for employees in England to return to the workplace from 1 August. James Taylor, from Scope told the BBC that Boris Johnson's comments will “ring alarm bells for many disabled people" as two-thirds of Covid-19 fatalities were disabled people. 

He said: “Disabled people must be able to have flexibility about returning to their workplace. Leaving this to the discretion of employers will create inconsistency, and does little to reassure those disabled people who fear being forced to choose between protecting their health and paying the bills.” 

4.45pm Mass return to work unlikely, says Institute of Directors 

Following the government’s announcement that advice for employers on the return to work will change from 1 August, the Institute of Directors has said it doubts a significant return to offices any time soon. 

Edwin Morgan told the BBC that businesses will be reluctant to “increase the possibility of closures down the line by rushing back.” 

He added: "On top of this, not everything is in a company's control. Childcare is an issue for many employees, and even if the guidance is changed, some staff who use public transport will still be concerned."

While Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that smaller firms tasked with “consulting employees and putting the right measures in place to ensure a safe return” would need funding and advice to make that happen. 

1.40pm The benefits of family-friendly working conditions

Rob Tubman explains why employers should embrace a flexible working culture in the age of coronavirus

1.30pm How will coronavirus change the way workplaces operate?

From permanent home working to a reduction in business travel, Alex Denny, Emma Vennesson and Charlotte Marshall explore how the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to adapt.

1.20 pm Employers must decide if bringing staff back is safe, says PM

From 1 August, the government will no longer tell employees to work from home where they can, but ask employers to decide if it’s safe for staff to come back, prime minister Boris Johnson has announced. Speaking during a Downing Street press conference this morning, Johnson said that from the end of this month, “instead of [the] government telling people to work from home, we will give employers more discretion and ask them how their staff could work more safely. This could be continuing working from home, or it could mean making workplaces safer by following Covid-secure guidelines”.

But experts warned leaving this to firms’ discretion could undermine worker confidence, as CIPD research revealed nervousness among staff about returning to the office. “The government has left a lot of the ‘risk’ decisions about timing of return, practicalities about whether to wear masks, to employers and individual employees,” said Kathleen Heycock, partner at Farrer & Co. “This means different places are doing different things at different times.”

10.30am City Hall to reopen to staff

City Hall will reopen to staff from the end of July, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced. About 200 workers – around a sixth of the Greater London Authority’s workforce of 1,190 – will return from 30 July, with those who have found it hardest working from home to be allowed back first. The building, on the south bank of the Thames near Tower Bridge, closed shortly before lockdown was imposed. Staff have been working remotely for the last 18 weeks, though Khan has been seen in his eighth-floor office in recent weeks.

Priority will be given to staff working in “cramped, busy homes, who are feeling lonely or isolated or those who – because of the nature of their work – need to be around others for support,” said Khan. “We are nowhere near able to allow everyone back into City Hall and home working is going to continue for the majority of staff, but a number of GLA staff and officials, particularly those struggling with home arrangements, will now be able to return to City Hall in a safe and Covid-secure manner,” he said.

9.20am Centrica using Covid-19 as ‘smokescreen’ to alter staff contracts, say unions

Trade unions have accused the owner of British Gas of using the Covid-19 pandemic as a “smokescreen” to force its 20,000 employees to accept worse employment contracts or lose their jobs. Centrica is in talks to “simplify” the wide range of employment contracts used across its 20,000-strong workforce, having announced plans last month to cut 5,000 jobs. The firm was forced to assure employees this week that the company would only seek to terminate existing contracts and offer fresh terms, known as a section 188 notice, as a “last resort” if the “challenging” talks with unions fell apart. Unions have accused the company of raising the possibility of a section 188 notice in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak to “blackmail” staff into agreeing to lower pay and tougher contract terms.

Referring to proposals by British Airways to change terms and conditions for thousands of staff under a section 188 notice, Mark Pettifer, regional officer for Unite, said: “Centrica is adopting the same tactics as British Airways and is using Covid-19 as a smokescreen to cut jobs of loyal and dedicated staff who have worked through the lockdown providing energy to the nation.”

9.15am More than 1,600 jobs at risk at casino firm Genting

Casino company Genting is to cut up to 1,642 jobs at clubs and hotels across the UK owing to Covid-19. While pubs, restaurants, shops and even bookmakers in England have been allowed to open as coronavirus lockdown restrictions eased, casinos remain among the businesses not permitted to do so. Genting, one of the largest casino operators in the UK, will permanently close casinos in Margate, Torquay and Bristol, while other sites face severe job reductions, with some venues proposing to shed more than half of their employees.

“This announcement by the company is nothing short of outrageous,” said Mick Rix, a GMB national officer. “It’s a serious slap in the face to loyal and long serving staff – as well as the UK public. Taxpayers’ cash has funded Genting to the tune of millions of pounds during lockdown: now they are making people redundant rather than contribute towards the government furlough scheme from the end of August.”

8.45am PM to set out plans to encourage people back to work this morning 

A press conference scheduled for 11am this morning will see prime minister Boris Johnson set out proposals for an extra £3bn for the NHS to get it ‘battle-ready for winter.’ The plans will fund a major boost to flu vaccinations and an increase in coronavirus testing capacity, reported to be targeted at half a million tests a day by the end of October. Johnson will also set out plans to encourage more people to go back to their workplaces. He is expected to unveil a new ‘Contain Framework’ designed to prove to anxious workers that the virus is "under control" in their local areas. He will also relax guidance on the use of public transport, allowing people to start commuting again in August. 

This comes despite chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance saying yesterday (16 July) that he saw “absolutely no reason” for people to stop working from home. “Of the various distancing measures, working from home for many companies remains a perfectly good option because it’s easy to do,” he told the Commons science committee. “I think a number of companies think it’s actually not detrimental to productivity.”

Thursday 16 July

4.45pm Chancellor’s job-saving package recycles up to £10bn of spending, says IFS

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been accused of repackaging up to £10bn of previously announced government spending to form the backbone of his plan, announced last week (8 July), to save jobs during Covid-19. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said at least £8bn and up to a third of the £30bn coronavirus response package announced by Sunak in his summer statement would be funded from underspending on previously planned projects. The body said the package included £5.5bn in transport and infrastructure projects that was in fact money reallocated from other schemes.

It said the £2bn ‘green homes grant’ announced by Sunak to help insulate Britain’s energy-inefficient homes had been allocated from previously announced spending, and that the £400m for traineeships, apprenticeships, school leavers and careers advice in England was from an existing funding pot.

4.30pm Pizza Express to potentially cut 1,000 jobs

Pizza Express is to close up to 75 of its restaurants as part of a rescue plan that could put more than 1,000 jobs at risk. The restaurant chain is lining up a company voluntary arrangement – an insolvency process that allows it to exit stores and cut rents – linked to talks with bondholders over its heavy debt burden. Meanwhile, in June The Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s, said it would close up to 120 restaurants, with almost 3,000 jobs losses, while more than 1,000 Carluccio’s staff lost their jobs as part of a rescue deal in May.

1.50pm Latest figures masking true extent of UK’s employment crisis, say experts

Official figures showing the number of UK workers on payroll dropped by 649,000 between March and June fail to show the true extent of the crisis, experts have warned. Office for National Statistics data showed the number of paid employees in Britain had fallen by 2.2 per cent (649,000) compared to March 2020, while the number of hours worked in Britain between March and May 2019 and March to May 2020 fell to a record low. Hours worked each week dropped by 16.7 per cent (175.3 million) to 877.1 million hours in total, marking the most drastic annual decrease since records began in 1971. 

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said the “sting in the tail is the record fall in demand for workers” and a sharp drop in the number of hours worked. “The situation can only deteriorate rapidly over the rest of the summer and into the autumn as young people enter the labour market,” he said, urging employers to only make redundancies as a last resort and to explore other options first. 

1.30pm More than 740,000 coronavirus tests carried out on social care workers

An estimated 741,021 coronavirus tests have been carried out on social care workers as of 8 July, according to figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). This number includes symptomatic household members of workers in the social care sector. Approximately 352,946 tests have been carried out on care home residents. However, the DHSC said the estimates were not an indication of the number of people tested, as some people had been tested multiple times. 

12.30pm Home working set to double post coronavirus crisis, survey finds

Employers expect the number of staff working from home in the future to double in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, research has found, despite government plans to start getting office staff back into workplaces from August. Almost two in five (37 per cent) employees will be working from home on a regular basis once the crisis is over, according to employer predictions made as part of CIPD research, compared to just a fifth (18 per cent) who did so before lockdown. 

Additionally, businesses expected the proportion of staff working from home all the time to increase from 9 per cent before the pandemic to 22 per cent. In the CIPD research, which surveyed 1,046 UK employers, organisations reported the average proportion of the workforce conducting their roles from home continuously was more than half (54 per cent). In response to this expected increase in home working, the CIPD has called on the government to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees.

12pm What does the jobs plan for young people mean for businesses?

Tim Stovold explains the government’s new measures aimed at boosting employment among the under-25s.

11.50am Five ways HR can help firms survive the economic turmoil ahead

To maintain a sense of togetherness, people teams must pay attention to psychological safety, values and managing conflict, says David Liddle.

11.20am Unemployment in Scotland rose during lockdown, official data shows

Unemployment in Scotland rose by 4.3 per cent during the height of the coronavirus pandemic (between March and May), official figures show. This was a .6 per cent increase on the previous quarter and is higher than the UK average employment rate of 3.9 per cent. The figures, published by the Scottish government, also indicated 15,000 more people were seeking jobs during lockdown, bringing the total of those looking for new work in the country to 120,000. 

10.20am Almost 2,500 redundancies proposed in Northern Ireland in June

Employers in Northern Ireland proposed 2,473 redundancies in June, the highest monthly figure on record, according to an analysis of labour market figures. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) said the redundancies had mostly been contracted in retail, hospitality, manufacturing and transportation. The four sectors accounted for almost 90 per cent of proposed redundancies between March and the end of June. 

Companies in Northern Ireland are required to notify the government when they plan to make more than 20 people redundant. The NISRA analysis also found a further 745 redundancies in Northern Ireland were proposed in the first two weeks of July, taking the total number of proposed redundancies since the start of March to 4,900. 

10.10am Southbank Centre confirms 400 jobs at risk

The Southbank Centre has announced that 400 jobs, which represents about two-thirds of the arts complex’s total workforce, are at risk of redundancy because of the impact of the pandemic on the arts industry. A spokesperson for the Southbank Centre confirmed the news after workers were told about the cuts on Wednesday (15 July). The spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy as part of a comprehensive management action plan designed to stem the financial losses being incurred as a result of Covid-19, and to help safeguard the future of the UK’s largest arts centre.”

The job losses are expected to affect all areas of the organisation including the Hayward Gallery, Royal Festival Hall, the National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. Earlier in the year, the Southbank Centre furloughed the majority of its 600 employees. In May, the organisation predicted it could face a £5.1m deficit for the 2020-21 financial year as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis. 

Wednesday 15 July

5.30pm Sunak defends bonus scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has defended his job retention bonus scheme after MPs on the Treasury committee described the scheme as "badly timed and poorly targeted". The policy – announced last week – will see the government pay employers £1,000 for every furloughed worker they retain past January. Labour MP Angela Eagle told the chancellor the scheme risked spending taxpayers' money for no benefit. "Surely you could have had less deadweight if you'd have focused support on different sectors. Why didn't you do that?" she asked. 

Labour MP Rushanara Ali meanwhile suggested the bonus would not stop a surge in unemployment and could end up funnelling money to already-rich companies. She also questioned whether it would benefit smaller businesses. Sunak said he firmly believed the scheme "will and can make a difference", and rejected suggestions it should have been more targeted as impractical.

4.50pm Plans to make face coverings mandatory in offices ‘rejected’ 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that people working in offices would not need to wear face coverings, despite a news report suggesting they would. 

Hancock told BBC Breakfast that the concept of face coverings in offices had been “rejected”, adding that there was a difference between a short visit to a shop and working alongside colleagues for hours, and masks would not offer protection. "When you're in close proximity with somebody that you have to work closely to, if you're there for a long time with them, then a mask doesn't offer that protection,” said Hancock. 

2.45pm Teenagers most likely to have been furloughed

Seventeen-year-old women are most likely to have been put on furlough during the coronavirus crisis, according to data from HM Revenue and Customs, with some 61 per cent of jobs done by this group being put on the job retention scheme. Young men of the same age were also more likely than not to have been furloughed, hitting 58 per cent of their jobs. Men in their 40s and women aged 41 to 58 were least likely to have been put on the scheme. People working for smaller companies were more likely to have been furloughed than those employed by bigger businesses. Some 57 per cent of jobs at businesses with between five and nine employees had been furloughed, compared to 19 per cent at companies with 250 or more employees.

1pm Will office staff be required to wear face coverings – and would this work?

In something of a surprise U-turn, the government announced yesterday (14 July) that it will be mandatory to wear a face mask in shops after 24 July, prompting much furore over whether shop workers could reasonably be expected to help the police enforce this. At the same time, Downing Street said it would keep the guidance on face coverings in other settings, such as offices, under review, with conflicting messages from different ministers on this then ensuing.

So just how likely is it that the government will mandate mask wearing in the office? And what would be the effect on the timescale in which desk-based workers are likely to return to their workplaces? People Management finds out...

12.50pm How to tackle interpersonal challenges remotely

Face-to-face meetings may not be possible at the moment, but managers can still ensure staff feel heard, understood and supported during difficult conversations, says Philippa Lucarz.

12.40pm Can employers base redundancy payments on furlough wages?

With many employees on the job retention scheme being made redundant amid the coronavirus downturn, Stephen Moore explains how businesses should manage remuneration. 

11.40am Guardian announces plans to cut 180 jobs

The Guardian has announced plans to cut up to 180 editorial and commercial roles, as the economic impact of the pandemic continues to hit the UK media industry. The proposals could affect up to 110 roles in the newspaper's advertising, marketing, live events and Guardian Jobs departments, with an additional 70 editorial positions at risk. 

In a joint statement to staff, editor-in-chief Katharine Viner and Annette Thomas, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, said the pandemic had created an "unsustainable financial outlook for the Guardian" with revenues expected to be down by more than £25m on the year's budget. A spokesperson for Guardian Media Group said: “We will discuss all our proposals, including redundancy terms, during collective consultation with our employee and trade union representatives.”

10.50am Asos to repay furlough cash as lockdown sales rise

Online retailer Asos will repay cash to the government it claimed for furloughing workers after its sales grew during lockdown. Asos said that group sales increased by 10 per cent in the four months leading up to 30 June. In its latest trading update, Asos said it would be returning cash it received under the furlough scheme after a "better than initially expected full-year performance". 

Asos chief executive Nick Beighton said: "This has been a tough time for all businesses, but we have remained focused on doing the right thing for our people... While we remain cautious about the consumer impact of Covid-19 looking forward, we are on track to deliver strong year-on-year profit growth." The retailer did not confirm how many workers it had furloughed under the government scheme. 

9.35am Burberry to cut 150 jobs in the UK

Luxury brand Burberry is to cut 150 jobs in the UK as part of a wider cost saving measure after a slump in sales during the coronavirus pandemic. The brand said it was looking to cut £55m in costs and would be making 500 roles redundant worldwide, including 150 in its UK head office. Burberry said it would keep its headquarters in the UK but would "further streamline" head office roles, reduce office space and "improve retail efficiency" outside the UK. The 500 jobs being cut represent about 5 per cent of Burberry's global workforce. Marco Gobbetti, chief executive of Burberry, said: “We are sharpening our focus on product and making other organisational changes to increase our agility and generate structural savings that we will be able to reinvest into consumer-facing activities to further strengthen our luxury positioning.”

9.30am UK jobless could hit four million by end of year, says OBR

Unemployment in the UK could reach more than four million by the end of the year, according to a fiscal sustainability report by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The report warned that 1.3 million people will go directly from furlough to joblessness when the scheme ends in October. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, noted that the new prognosis for jobs in the report was gloomier than the OBR’s analysis early in the pandemic, which painted a scenario of the economy bouncing back to almost full strength. 

“The OBR is now of the view that the most likely outcome of this crisis is a big long run reduction in our national income relative to where it should be,” he said. Separately, a British Chambers of Commerce poll of more than 7,000 businesses showed that 29 per cent planned to cut jobs before the job retention scheme expires. Meanwhile, 28 per cent had already reduced their headcount but 12 per cent hoped to expand their workforce over the coming quarter.

9.15am Civil servants to return to offices over the coming weeks

UK ministers are preparing to send thousands of civil servants back to their offices in the coming weeks as part of a broader attempt to protect England’s city centres from economic collapse. At the end of last week prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to “go back to work” so long as it was safe even though the official advice is still for people to work from home if possible, causing confusion among employers and employer groups. Most Whitehall departments have, after conducting Covid risk assessments, apparently concluded that they could return to 25-30 per cent occupancy, with some considering if this could be higher now social distancing can be ‘one metre plus’.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA civil service union, expressed concerns over the plans, particularly given how well the civil service has managed working from home during the crisis. “It is disappointing therefore to hear suggestions that ministers may want civil servants to return to work as part of the government’s increasingly confused public health messages,” he said.

8.30am Nurses not wearing masks led to A&E closure, inquiry finds

Nurses not wearing face masks or staying two metres apart led to an outbreak of Covid-19 that shut an A&E unit after 70 staff at a hospital had to go into quarantine, an inquiry has found. An investigation by Hillingdon hospital in London found that a nurse who had coronavirus unknowingly infected more than a dozen others during a training session they all attended on 30 June. 

Last week, the hospital announced it had stopped accepting emergency admissions because the outbreak had led to 70 employees having to go into isolation. The training session was identified as the source of the outbreak as hospital sources told the Guardian that not everyone who attended the session wore a mask or stayed two metres apart. 

8am Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen in Scotland

Hairdressers and barbers, bars and restaurants, cinemas, tourist attractions, places of worship and childcare settings can all reopen from today (15 July) in Scotland. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was "the biggest step so far" in the relaxation of coronavirus measures since Scotland went into lockdown in March. But Sturgeon warned it could also bring the greatest risk of a potential resurgence of coronavirus infections. All customers to newly reopened indoor spaces in Scotland will be asked to provide their name and a phone number, as part of the NHS Test and Protect Scheme. 

7.30am Virgin Atlantic rescue deal could save thousands of jobs

Virgin Atlantic has finalised a rescue deal worth £1.2bn that could protect thousands of jobs, the airline has said. Virgin Group will inject £200m, with additional funds provided by investors and creditors to save the struggling airline. Owner Sir Richard Branson had requested aid from the UK government, but this was rejected. 

Virgin Atlantic is still going through with 3,500 job cuts, but the airline said the remaining 6,500 jobs should be secure because of the rescue deal. The firm said the refinancing covered the next five years and paved the way for it to rebuild its balance sheet and return to profitability in 2022. Chief executive Shai Weiss said: "We have taken painful measures, but we have accomplished what many thought impossible. The last six months have been the toughest we have faced in our 36-year history."

Tuesday 14 July

5.25pm Blackburn employers could face tighter lockdown restrictions as cases spike 

People in Blackburn may be asked to limit visitors from another household to two following 61 new coronavirus cases emerging within a week. The director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen, Professor Dominic Harrison, told the BBC that stricter measures could be imposed in two weeks if the number of cases did not fall. "One of the things we don't want to do is to get in a situation like Leicester where everything is open to where everything is shut," Harrison said. If Blackburn were to face a local lockdown, employers in hospitality and retail would have to once again close their doors and potentially re-engage with the coronavirus job retention scheme. Additionally, employees living in Blackburn would not be able to commute to workplaces outside of the affected area, resulting in prolonged home working arrangements potentially. 

5pm Workers should not be expected to police face mask wearing, which will be unpopular with young shoppers, says JD Sports chairman

The government’s rule that face coverings should be worn in shops from 24 July in England could deter shoppers, according to Peter Cowgill, executive chair of JD Sports, who said the rule would probably prove a “turn off” for its teenagers and twentysomething buyers, and that the “inconsistencies and indecisiveness” of the government’s stance had hit consumer confidence. The company also said it did not expect colleagues to get involved with policing the situation.

His comments followed concerns it would fall to store staff to police the public’s use of masks at a time when there was more abuse than normal because of social distancing frustrations, according to Usdaw. James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said he was pleased the legal responsibility for enforcing the face mask policy rested with the police rather than with shop workers, but added: “In reality it will be retailers and their colleagues trying to communicate and explain this to people.”

2.50pm Skyscanner to cut jobs at Edinburgh office

Travel firm Skyscanner has announced plans to cut one fifth of its global workforce, including up to 84 jobs at its base in Edinburgh. Around 300 of its 1,500 workers around the world are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the travel industry. The company said it was confident in its recovery from the crisis in the long term, but the impact of Covid-19 on the business meant there remained "uncertainty on how much time it will take for travel to recover and what this might look like". 

Commenting on the announcement of job cuts, a spokesman for Skyscanner said: "This is a hard time for our people and teams, so throughout this process our priority – as it always is – will be to treat everyone with empathy, care and respect. We’ll be working to make sure we support them as much as we can."

2.20pm Majority of UK tourism firms expect redundancies

Almost nine in 10 companies in the UK's tourism industry expect to make job cuts as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey. The research, conducted by trade association UKinbound, found 88 per cent of companies in this sector anticipated making between 25 per cent and 100 per cent of their staff redundant because of the pandemic. A further three in five (60 per cent) said they would be forced to make further redundancies in August when the coronavirus job retention scheme begins to taper off. 

More than half (53 per cent) did not expect their business to last longer than six months because of the crisis. UKinbound called on the government to provide more financial support to the sector as many businesses were "on their knees", and the risk of widespread redundancies was a "very real threat". 

2pm Birmingham REP Theatre announces job cuts

The Birmingham Repertory (REP) Theatre has announced it could be forced to cut up to 40 per cent of its workforce following the ongoing economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The theatre warned 47 jobs could be lost. The cuts come despite an emergency funding package from the government to bolster the arts sector in the wake of the pandemic. But the theatre said it had already lost 80 per cent of its income, leaving its current business model "unsustainable". 

In a statement issued by the venue, management officials said it was with "great sadness" that they had entered into a redundancy consultation period. It added: “Despite the very welcome news earlier this week of the government’s support package for the cultural sector, and Arts Council England’s emergency funds that partially mitigate our current losses, the reality for the REP is that we simply do not know when we will be able to reopen our doors and welcome audiences back into our building to enjoy live theatre again in a way that is safe for the public and financially viable for the theatre."

1.40pm Shakespeare Birthplace Trust warns of redundancies

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has announced it is in consultation with staff as it looks to cut costs in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which it says will result in an £8.5m loss of income for 2020. The charity said it intends to reopen Shakespeare's Birthplace this summer, but the other four sites – Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Shakespeare's New Place, Hall's Croft and Mary Arden's Farm – will remain closed until "at least spring 2021". The charity's sites, shops and cafes have been closed since 17 March, with a resulting loss of almost 90 per cent of income compared to last year. 

Tim Cooke, chief executive of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said the charity received a £900,000 award from Arts Council England's emergency fund, and this gave the charity the opportunity to reopen one site this summer. But the additional funds were not enough to prevent potential job cuts. He added: "Like many organisations operating in the culture, tourism, hospitality and retail arenas, the trust has to look at its costs. Regrettably, this will mean a reduction to our workforce, and the trust is in consultation with its employees to look at options to reduce employee numbers, wherever possible through a voluntary redundancy scheme and changes to working arrangements."

1.20pm Low-paid workers bearing the brunt of Covid fall in employment, study finds

Low-income workers are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic as a result of being laid off in higher numbers and so missing out on government support, according to research. 

The analysis, which provides the first detailed assessment of official labour force survey data during the height of the coronavirus crisis between February and April, found that employment for those in low-paid roles fell by four percentage points during this timeframe – equivalent to 140,000 jobs. In comparison, employment for those in higher-paying jobs remained unchanged during the same period. 

The study said this suggested there was a sizeable group of low-income workers missing out on government support, such as the coronavirus job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme. 

9.30am Aon chief exec defends coronavirus pay cuts

The chief executive of Aon, Greg Case, has defended the company’s short-lived decision to cut staff salaries by a fifth during the pandemic, a controversial move that came just weeks after the company unveiled its $30bn acquisition of Willis Towers Watson. In an interview with the Financial Times, Case said the decision to reduce pay in April was taken after “sober analysis” of the situation. “Hope is not a strategy,” he said. “We are committed to protecting 50,000 colleagues and their ability to serve clients… We are a fact-based organisation. We took fact-driven decisions.”

Aon was the only big insurance broker to reduce pay during the crisis. The cuts, which affected 60 per cent of staff, were reversed late last month and Aon is reimbursing employees for all the pay they lost plus an extra 5 per cent. But industry experts said this episode would still make it easier for Aon’s rivals to poach top talent.

9.15am Factory workers warned about risks of car sharing

A bed factory has seen eight workers test positive for coronavirus – the third in a series of outbreaks at similar sites in West Yorkshire. Highgrove Beds in Liversedge ceased production as a safety precaution with all staff offered tests. The outbreak follows cases at DeepSleep Beds in Ossett and Dura Beds in Batley over the past month. There have also been cases of coronavirus reported at two meat factories in West Yorkshire. 

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, director of public health at Kirklees Council, warned factory workers of the risk of car sharing: "With the bed factories, it's less about the industry itself and more about working in a factory setting. What interests me a lot more is how people get to and from work, because actually you find a lot of people are car sharing and in those scenarios you're in quite close contact with others for quite a long period of time, dependent on the commute."

9am Most Irish employees want to retain remote working option

More than 80 per cent of employees in the Republic of Ireland want to continue to spend at least part of their week working remotely after the pandemic abates, according to an AIB/Amárach Research survey. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the 1,000-plus adults surveyed wanted to work two to three days a week from home, and 20 per cent stated a preference for one to two days. Another 20 per cent indicated they’d like to work three to four days a week at home and 14 per cent said they would like to go to the office only when needed. Just 15 per cent said they wanted to go back to the office exactly as they did before the pandemic.

7.45am Birmingham arts venues announce major job losses

Two of Birmingham’s most well-known arts venues, the Symphony Hall and Town Hall, have announced major staff cuts because of the Covid-19 crisis. The charity that runs the two halls said it would be losing around half of its 65 permanent staff and that reducing its workforce was necessary for the venues' long-term survival. The announcement also said the hundreds of freelancers who work on the shows and concerts staged at the two venues will not have work. 

In a statement, the venues said: “The future of these two iconic concert halls looks very different from the plans we began the year with. This period of closure has already resulted in huge losses and it is still unclear when it may be possible to reopen.” The venues called on the government for guidance on when the arts venues may be able to reopen – and the funding to reach that point. More than 90 per cent of the halls' turnover comes from ticket sales and other activities, which grinded to a halt because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures. 

7.20am Face coverings in England's shops to be compulsory from 24 July

Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July, the government is to announce. Individuals who fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £100. Health secretary Matt Hancock is expected to set out the guidance on face coverings today (14 July). The move to make face coverings mandatory in shops will bring England in line with Scotland, Spain and Germany. 

The public has been advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces since mid-May, and it has been compulsory to wear coverings on public transport since 15 June. But James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, warned in an interview with the BBC that it should not be the job of staff to "police" the policy of wearing face masks in shops if it should become compulsory.

Monday 13 July

5.30pm Halfords closures could lead to hundreds of job losses

Halfords has confirmed plans to close up to 60 stores and garages by April, saying that while it hoped to move staff to other branches, the closures could lead to hundreds of job losses. “Covid-19 has materially changed the retail outlook for the coming months and has overshadowed Brexit as the emerging risk,” the company said in a statement. Halfords, which was classed as an essential retailer, initially closed its stores during the lockdown but then gradually reopened – first for a collection-only service and then with physical distancing measures. Despite a 57 per cent rise in cycling-related sales during the coronavirus lockdown, Halfords warned it could fall to a £10m loss in the year ahead if sales fell by 9.5 per cent.

1.30pm Experts call for clarity on returning staff to offices amid conflicting ministerial messages

Boris Johnson has suggested employers should now ask office staff to return to work, in messaging that experts have highlighted conflicts both with current official guidance and a suggestion from health secretary Matt Hancock that the right to work from home could be more strongly enshrined in law. Speaking on ‘The People’s PMQs’ online on Friday (10 July), the prime minister hinted at a new strategy, saying people should “start to go to work now if [they] can”. He added: “I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants and get back into work – but only if we all follow the guidance.”

However, the new messaging has been criticised for being confusing, as official government guidance remains that reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help employees work from home – and that, while they should go back to work if they can’t work from home, staff should still work from home if they can. Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, told the Financial Times that many businesses would be “confused by hearing one thing from politicians, and seeing another in black and white in the official guidance”. She added that the UK was still a “long way off” a full return to normal working patterns. 

1.20pm Not shop workers’ job to police face mask wearing, says Waterstones CEO

James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, has told the BBC it should not be the job of staff to "police" the policy of wearing face masks in shops if this was to become compulsory. Boris Johnson has said people in England "should be wearing" face masks or other coverings inside shops and that the government would decide in the next few days if "tools of enforcement" were needed.

Daunt told the BBC's Today programme: "On public transport wearing a mask seems sensible. If the science backs it, then it is a perfectly reasonable thing, and I think people will become more familiar with shopping." But he added: "There are a tiny, tiny minority of people who will be confrontational over it and it is not the position of shop workers to enter into that situation.” Shop workers’ union Usdaw has urged the government to clarify its policy on face coverings in shops. "It should never fall on shop workers to enforce the wearing of face coverings; they are already dealing with more abuse than normal and this could be another flashpoint," warned Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary.

12.10pm Remote working and disabled employees

Jonathan Rennie and Nicky Beach explain how businesses can ensure their working from home protocols don’t discriminate against disabled staff. 

12pm Around 30,000 jobs at risk in UK events sector

British events businesses have warned 30,000 jobs are at risk in the sector because the government has yet to set a date at which trade shows, exhibitions and conferences will be permitted to restart. Early communication will be “critical” as roughly 70 per cent of the 1,100 trade shows and exhibitions originally scheduled to run in the UK this year have been postponed to the final months of the year, said trade body the Events Industry Alliance (EIA). If no further events are run this year, the EIA has warned that more than a quarter of people in the sector will find themselves without a job.

9.20am John Lewis and Primark say they won’t claim job retention bonuses

John Lewis will not take up the £1,000 for every furloughed worker brought back to the shop floor it’s eligible for, The Telegraph has reported, following similar announcements from Primark and bookmakers William Hill. The retailer furloughed 14,000 shop workers at the start of the crisis but is not expected to collect any money from the Treasury’s job retention bonus, announced last week by chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Primark placed around 30,000 workers on the government's coronavirus job retention scheme, but it said it has now brought them all back and would not ask for the payment. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for M&S said it "welcomed" the support shown for businesses during the pandemic, but added: "However, at this stage, it's too early to confirm our plans to use the furlough bonus scheme announced by the chancellor earlier this week." McDonald's said it is "still working through the details of the chancellor's announcement" and is unable to comment.

9.15am Emirates set to axe 9,000 jobs

The president of Emirates airline, Sir Tim Clark, announced over the weekend that it is set to cut as many as 9,000 jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time the world's biggest long-haul carrier has disclosed how many jobs would be lost. Before the crisis, Emirates had 60,000 staff. In an interview with the BBC, Clark said Emirates was "not as badly off as others" and that the airline had already cut a tenth of its staff. But, he said: "We will probably have to let go of a few more, probably up to 15 per cent."

9am Farm workers quarantined in Herefordshire outbreak

About 200 workers at a vegetable farm and packing business supplying Sainsbury’s, Asda, M&S and Aldi have been ordered to isolate on the property after an outbreak of coronavirus, it was reported over the weekend. At least 73 of the workers at A S Green & Co, based in Herefordshire, have tested positive for Covid-19, and more are awaiting results. All of the farm’s workforce has been told to isolate in their mobile homes. The group was being treated as an ‘extended bubble’ to reduce the risk of the outbreak spreading outside the farm, an official said. 

Most of the farm’s workforce are usually drawn from eastern Europe, but travel restrictions this year forced it to launch a local recruitment drive. In April the farm’s owner, Andrew Green, told the Hereford Times that the business was hoping to attract furloughed workers wanting to earn extra money.

Friday 10 July

4.30pm EasyJet accused of using sickness records to decide coronavirus-related job cuts

EasyJet has been accused of intending to use pilots' sickness records when drawing up plans for more than 700 job cuts being made in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. The Balpa pilots' union said it was "unnecessary and wrong", claiming the airline was risking safety because unwell staff would report for work. The airline acknowledged general absenteeism could form part of its assessment but said it had only put forward initial proposals to Balpa.

Brian Strutton, Balpa's general secretary, said easyJet was planning to use the start of the coronavirus period as part of its sickness timeframe. But the airline rejected Balpa's claims, saying in a statement: "We would never put forward proposals that would compromise safety as we have an industry-leading safety culture, as Balpa acknowledges. Safety is our number one priority and we are focused on doing what is right for the long-term health of the company and our people so we can protect jobs going forward.”

1.20pm How to combat survivor syndrome at work

HR must enlist the help of mentors and ensure former staff aren’t forgotten to tackle feelings of guilt among remaining employees, says David Clutterbuck. He added that every employer has “tough choices to make” as some employees will no longer have a job to return to when  businesses slowly reopen after lockdown. 

1.15pm How should people professionals handle a local lockdown?

People Management asks HR and employment law experts for advice on key points of concern, including contingency planning and staff commuting from affected areas

11.20am Majority of furloughed workers expect to return to the same job

More than seven in 10 workers who have been furloughed or have been unable to work because of the coronavirus outbreak believe they are likely to return to the same job after the crisis, official data has shown.

The latest figures on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak from the Office for National Statistics have shown 71 per cent of workers who have been temporarily laid off under the job retention scheme, who have faced a temporary closure of their workplace or who have been asked to take leave  said they were likely or very likely to return to that job. In comparison, 9 per cent said they were unlikely or very unlikely to return to the same job, while 11 per cent said they “didn’t know”.

The figures have found over half (56 per cent) of working adults have said the coronavirus has impacted on their work, up from 52 per cent last week. However, the proportion of working adults who had either worked at home or traveled to work remained steady at 78 per cent.

The was a little change in the number of adults travelling to work in the last seven days compared to the previous week (48 per cent and 49 per cent respectively), and the proportion of adults who had worked exclusively from home had also remained steady at 30 per cent over the last seven days compared to 29 per cent the previous week.

11.10am Face coverings compulsory in Scotland’s shops

The Scottish government has announced that wearing a face covering is now compulsory in shops, while Police Scotland encourages shoppers to raise concerns with shop staff as police enforcement would be a last resort. 

There are exemptions for people with certain medical conditions or disabilities, and children under five. ACC Gary Ritchie told the BBC: "We would encourage people to raise any concerns with business owners or staff in the first instance."

8.10am Tax boss questions value of Rishi Sunak's furlough bonus and meal discount schemes

Plans unveiled by chancellor Rishi Sunak to stem coronavirus job losses and "kickstart" the hospitality sector may not be value for money for taxpayers, a top official has warned. HMRC boss Jim Harra wrote to Sunak to express concerns about paying firms a £1,000 bonus to retain furloughed staff and questioned the value for money of a discount scheme at restaurants. Sunak rejected his concerns, saying action was needed to save jobs. 

In his letters, sent before Wednesday's announcements, Harra said there was "sound policy rationale" behind both programmes, but it was hard to estimate their effectiveness.

7.25am 450 jobs under threat at Newport's Celtic Manor company

Bosses at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, which hosted the Ryder Cup in 2014 and the 2014 Nato conference, have told staff that 450 of its nearly 1,000 jobs are to be made redundant due to the impact of coronavirus on the tourism sector. The Celtic Collection, which owns the resort and the International Convention Centre, is one of Newport's major employers. 

The hotel has been shut since the lockdown began on 23 March and is scheduled to reopen on 14 July. But bosses said it will only do so "under reduced capacities and restricted facilities in line with safety guidelines to mitigate the risk of coronavirus". As such, the firm said its current financial model is not "sustainable" due to "drastically reduced occupancies and revenues". 

Thursday 9 July

5.10pm Swimming pools and gyms to reopen at the end of the month

As of this weekend, live performances will be allowed outside and recreational sports including football and cricket will be permitted, the culture secretary has said. In a temporary reprieve of the daily Downing Street press briefing, Oliver Dowden also outlined a timeline for reopening gyms and swimming pools: from Saturday outdoor pools and water parks will be allowed to open, followed by indoor pools, gyms and leisure centres from 25 July. “We’ll be giving gyms the certainty, clarity and time they need to reopen safely so that the maximum number can open their doors in just two weeks’ time,” said Dowden.

Beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other “close contact services” will also be allowed to open from Monday, subject to some restrictions.

2.40pm First arrest made for 'furlough fraud'

A man from Solihull in the West Midlands has been arrested on suspicion of defrauding the government's furlough scheme out of £495,000. The arrest is the first in relation to fraudulent claims to the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS). HMRC said it had arrested a 57-year-old male on Wednesday (8 July), in connection with allegations of furlough fraud. HMRC also seized computers and froze funds in the man's bank account. 

Richard Las from HMRC's fraud investigation service said the scheme is part of a "collective national effort to protect jobs", adding: "The vast majority of employers will have used the CJRS responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse of the scheme."

1.30 pm Making a success of remote hearings

In this age of virtual meetings, Angelica Rokad outlines how employers can best prepare for and take part in tribunal proceedings online

1.20pm Parents have felt the love during lockdown – but what about working carers?

Those who look after a partner, friend or parent on top of their jobs are often overlooked for support by employers, but hopefully this will change post lockdown, says Tolu Farinto.

12.20pm John Lewis and Boots to cut thousands of jobs

Two of the UK’s biggest high street retailers, Boots and John Lewis, are to cut 5,300 jobs between them. Boots has announced a “significant restructuring” of its head office and store teams, which will see it close 48 of its opticians stores and reduce headcount by 4,000, equivalent to 7 per cent of its workforce.

John Lewis has also announced it will not be reopening eight of its stores that were closed during lockdown, putting at risk 1,300 jobs. In a statement, John Lewis Partnership said the stores closing were already in financial difficulties, but that the coronavirus outbreak had accelerated the existing trend away from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping. 

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time." 

Sharon White, chair of John Lewis Partnership, said the business would do everything it could to reduce job losses.

10.30am A third of UK companies planning to freeze pay because of coronavirus

A third of UK employers have frozen pay because of the coronavirus outbreak, a survey by Willis Towers Watson has found. Of the businesses polled for its Salary Budget Planning Report, 35 per cent said they were planning to freeze pay or postpone pay rises, and 39 per cent have reduced annual bonuses. The poll found businesses had been budgeting for an average of 3 per cent pay rises, however the economic impact of the virus has led employers to reduce this down to 2.7 per cent – a 10 per cent reduction on average.

Keith Coull, senior director in Willis Towers Watson’s Global Data Services business, said it was no surprise that many companies were reducing their pay budgets. “Most companies around the world are in cash preservation and cost optimisation mode and 80 per cent of companies in the biggest economies have already implemented a hiring freeze,” he said. “The full extent of the economic impact of the pandemic is yet to play out.”

However, the survey found the outlook for next year was more positive. Pay budgets for 2021 were expecting to increase to an average of 2.9 per cent pay rises – close to pre-coronavirus levels – although more than one in 10 firms (12 per cent) were still planning a salary freeze for next year.

7.30am Burger King boss warns of UK job cuts

The boss of Burger King UK has warned that economic damage triggered by the coronavirus pandemic could push the chain to permanently shut 10 per cent of its restaurants. The closures would result in more than 1,600 jobs lost. Speaking to BBC's Newscast, Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK, said the government’s schemes to help the restaurant industry announced yesterday do not go far enough to help businesses overcome lost sales and fixed costs. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government would subsidise half (50 per cent) of restaurant bills up to £10 per person on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August, in an effort to jumpstart consumer spending. Murdoch said Burger King expected to participate in the scheme. But despite government support, he said the chain could close 5 per cent to 10 per cent of its stores as a result of costs such as rent and "taking absolutely no money".

Wednesday 8 July 

6.20pm Employers ‘not convinced’ by Sunak’s job retention bonus

The announcement of a new package of coronavirus support measures by the chancellor has received a lukewarm welcome from business groups, with many warning more is needed to avoid large-scale unemployment. Peter Cheese, chief executive at the CIPD, said he was “not convinced” the job retention bonus would incentivise employers to bring back furloughed workers in greater numbers than they had already planned. “A simpler way of protecting jobs, and especially those of younger people, would be to extend the job retention scheme for key sectors such as hospitality and leisure beyond October,” he said.

This latest set of announcements may have also come too late for businesses, many of which have already made plans around headcount in time for the introduction of the flexible furlough scheme, which started on 1 July. “A lot [of employers] have not taken advantage of the flexible furlough scheme because of the high administrative burden,” said Ranjit Dhindsa, head of employment at Fieldfisher. “Offering the bonus now with only three weeks to go in July and a further tapering of the furlough scheme [in August]... the £1,000 might not be enough.”

2.30pm Restaurant bill discount offered to bolster hospitality sector under government plans

Diners will get a 50 per cent discount off their restaurant bill during August under government plans to bolster the hospitality sector. Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the "eat out help out" discount as part of a series of measures to restart the economy during the coronavirus crisis. Sunak said the UK was facing an "unique moment" because of the pandemic and that "we need to be creative" to help businesses negatively affected by coronavirus.

He said the plan was aimed at getting "customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs" and protecting "the 1.8 million people who work in them". Businesses that want to take part in the scheme will have to register through a website that opens on 13 July.

1.40pm Chancellor announces temporary job creation scheme for under-25s

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today revealed a raft of measures to protect jobs and restart the economy after lockdown, including a £2bn temporary job creation scheme for workers aged 18 to 24. Announced in Sunak’s summer statement, the investment aims to shield Britain’s young people – the age group hardest hit by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic – from unemployment.

Under the “kickstart scheme”, the government will fund six-month job placements with a minimum of 25 hours per week through Universal Credit for 350,000 young people aged 18 to 24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment. This is three times as many jobs than the previous Future Jobs Fund (FJF), which was introduced in response to the last financial crisis of 2009. 

12.45pm Furlough scheme responsible for productivity drop, says ONS

The introduction of the furlough scheme has caused a drop in UK productivity, as worker hours have been reduced without a change to their employment status, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said. The latest productivity figures from the ONS have shown that output per worker fell by 3.1 per cent in the first quarter of the year, from January to March, a time period which includes the start of lockdown and the government’s job retention scheme. During this period there was a 1.2 per cent fall in the number of hours worked.

However the official figures  – the first from the ONS to shed insight onto the impact of the coronavirus on UK productivity –  also show that when looking at productivity per hour worked, the drop was only 0.6 per cent. The latest figures also showed the cost of labour increased 6.2 per cent in the first three months of 2020 when compared to the previous year – the largest increase since 2006. This could also be due in part to the furlough scheme, which has helped support the cost of labour despite the fall in productivity.

11.55am Reward after Covid-19 will look very different

Many firms will have to maintain pay cuts for some time, says Ruth Thomas, but they must strike a careful balance to retain and attract talent.

11.50am Supporting mental health during lockdown

Richard Isham explains how employers can best safeguard the psychological wellbeing of their staff while they work from home.

11.45am Hillingdon Hospital closes to emergencies after Covid-19 outbreak among staff

Hillingdon Hospital – the main hospital in Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency – has been forced to close to emergency admissions after an outbreak of coronavirus among staff, according to the EveningStandard

The Standard’s health editor also reported on Twitter that 70 staff were currently self-isolating.

A spokesperson for the trust said arrangements were in place to “maintain safe and high quality care” and that any impact on patients has been “kept to an absolute minimum”.

11.30am More than 100 jobs threatened at Leeds Bradford Airport

More than 100 jobs are under threat at Leed Bradford Airport (LBA) as a result of the impact the coronavirus has had on the aviation industry. The airport said it has begun consulting with staff on temporary and zero-hour contracts, who would usually have been employed during the summer holiday season, and some workers in other roles. 

A spokesperson for LBA said the aviation industry, like many other sectors, are operating under challenging circumstances which led LBA to make "some difficult decisions" in letting staff go. They added: "The long-term prognosis for aviation is very different to the short-term constraints our business faces, and we remain committed to ensuring we have the right offer for passengers when the time comes through our replacement terminal scheme.”

9am DHL to cut 2,200 jobs at Jaguar Land Rover plants

Approximately 2,200 jobs supplying Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) manufacturing plants are at risk, according to reports by trade unions. Unite said 40 per cent of DHL Supply Chain staff at manufacturing plants in the Midlands and North West may lose their jobs. Unite said it was a "massive, bitter blow" and called on the government to protect car manufacturers who have seen a decline in sales and production due to coronavirus. 

DHL Supply Chain said it would aim to redeploy staff where possible. Agency workers at risk are employed at JLR plants in Castle Bromwich, Ellesmere Port, Halewood, Hams Hall, Midpoint, Solihull and Tyrefort. Unite said they are employed to deliver parts to warehouses and production lines and also transport completed vehicles.

8.20am Most Covid-19 hospital staff in Scotland have returned to their own jobs

Most Scottish hospital staff who were working with coronavirus patients have now returned to their own jobs, health officials have confirmed. For three months from March, NHS Scotland moved workers into Covid-19 response teams to tackle the crisis, with some healthcare staff working at different hospitals from the usual workplace. However, officials have said staff have moved back into their original pre-pandemic roles, and more activity could be seen in hospitals unrelated to the crisis. 

7.40am Chancellor to unveil 'kickstart’ jobs scheme for young people

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a £2bn "kickstart” scheme later today in an effort to create more jobs for young people in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment. The announcement will also include the jobs pledge alongside a £3bn "green" fund, boosts for apprenticeships, promises to create 30,000 new traineeships in England and doubling the number of front line staff at job centres.

Tuesday 7 July

5.15pm Unions criticise Boris Johnson’s ‘despicable’ comments on care homes

Unison and the National Care Forum have hit back at Boris Johnson’s comments that care homes “didn’t really follow the procedures” during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum described the prime minister’s statement as “neither accurate nor welcome” and criticised the government’s “stops and starts” guidance. A spokesperson for Unison said it was “despicable for Boris Johnson to blame incredible, dedicated care workers for his own government's failings”, and called for the prime minister to commit to “proper, lasting reform of social care”.

3.40pm Employer Covid-19 tests subject to income tax

Employees who have Covid-19 tests paid for by their employer will have to pay tax on them, according to the BBC

New guidance from HMRC treats the tests as a ‘benefit in kind’ and so subject to income tax. Following warnings from Treasury Committee chair Mel Stride that tax bills will “mount”, especially for those organisations that require regular testing, chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised to look into the issue “very quickly”.

2pm Most office staff reluctant to return to public transport this year, poll finds

The majority of employees would not be comfortable returning to public transport for their commute for the rest of this year because of coronavirus, according to a survey. Nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) employees polled said they would not be comfortable commuting to work on public transport at all during the rest of 2020, while 55 per cent said they were generally concerned about returning to the office.

And more than seven in 10 (71 per cent) employees said they were planning on going back to the office in a “phased, partial” manner once allowed to return. The poll, which surveyed a mix of 482 business leaders and employees and was conducted by Breathe, Posture People and HR Central, also found half (51 per cent) of business leaders planned to limit the number of people in the office to adhere to social distancing rules. 

11.50am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Surrey and Sussex Police

Collapsing traditional HR structures, rich data collection and revamped recruitment processes ensured both forces remained operational during the crisis.

10.15am Pubs in England close after positive test results 

At least three pubs have closed their doors after reopening on what has since been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’, due to large crowds of people flocking to bars and pubs. The establishments in Somerset, West Yorkshire and Hampshire have closed their premises and are undertaking a deep clean after customers notified them of testing positive for Covid. 

Hospitality and pub trade bodies published guidance on how to operate contact tracing, which involves taking contact details from one person in a group and holding the information for 21 days. They must also note the arrival time and how long they stay.

8.20am Barrhead Travel confirms redundancy plan

Scottish travel agency Barrhead Travel has confirmed plans to make staff redundant due to ongoing travel restrictions, quarantine uncertainty and the fact it will have to contribute to the costs of the furlough system from next month. It has not said how many jobs will be cut, but at least one branch in Glasgow will close. 

Barrhead Travel currently runs 76 outlets across Scotland and also has offices in Newcastle, Cumbria, Southampton, Leicester and Belfast. Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, said the firm is having to make difficult decisions as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on holidays, which she says is "in common with many others in our industry". She said: "Customer confidence has been dented by the ongoing uncertainty surrounding quarantine and travel restrictions. This, combined with the imminent closure of the furlough scheme, means we have had to announce a number of redundancies."

7.45am Daily Mirror owner Reach to cut 550 jobs

Reach – the owner of the Daily Mirror, OK! magazine and a host of regional newspapers – is to cut 12 per cent of its workforce as it struggles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The publisher said about 550 people could lose their jobs as it saw revenue slip nearly 30 per cent in the quarter leading up to June. 

Jim Mullen, chief executive of Reach, said the downturn in sales was linked to a fall in circulation and advertising revenue. As such, he said the group had completed plans to "transform the business" to meet future challenges. He added: "Regrettably, these plans involve a reduction in our workforce, and we will ensure all impacted colleagues are treated with fairness and respect throughout the forthcoming consultation process."

Monday 6 July

5pm Jobs in theatres, galleries and museums still at risk despite support package 

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said the £1.5bn emergency support package to help protect the future of theatres, galleries and museums will “not be enough to save every job”. He said: "Sadly, not everyone is going to be able to survive and not every job is going to be protected and sadly, I will have to be honest with you, of course we will see further redundancies."

Dowden claimed the grants and loans were intended to preserve “crown jewels” in the arts sector such as the Royal Albert Hall and national galleries, according to the BBC. He said institutions seeking a cash injection would have to apply through industry bodies and prove their contribution to wider economic growth. 

3.40pm Scotland reopens beer gardens and outdoor cafes

Beer gardens and outdoor cafes in Scotland are able to open today for the first time in 15 weeks. As well as following strict social distancing and hygiene rules, patrons will be asked to leave their contact details so they can be traced in the event of an outbreak. Pubs and restaurants in Scotland will be able to welcome customers indoors from 15 July as part of phase three of the Scottish government's route map out of lockdown, which first minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to confirm on Thursday (9 July).

2pm Unions and charities call for furlough extension to protect jobs and vulnerable staff

Unions and charities have called on the chancellor to extend the furlough scheme beyond October to protect jobs and allow high-risk individuals to continue shielding. In a joint statement put out over the weekend, unions – including the TUC, Unite and the GMB – warned that without “bold action” from the government this week the UK faced the prospect of “mass unemployment on a scale not seen since the 1980s”.

The announcement followed a week in which thousands of job cuts were announced by large companies and high street names, including Harrods, John Lewis and Arcadia Group, which owns the brands Topshop and Miss Selfridge. Just today (6 July), coffee shop chain Pret A Manger announced plans to close 30 stores and cut 1,000 jobs. The TUC has also joined a number of charities, including Age UK, Carers UK, Macmillan and Diabetes UK, in calling for the furlough scheme to be extended to protect shielding individuals, warning that many of those at high risk from coronavirus faced having to choose between their health and their jobs.

1.30pm Firms to receive £1,000 grants for taking on trainees

Businesses in England will be given £1,000 grants to take on trainees as part of a government bid to address mounting fears around coronavirus-fuelled youth unemployment. The government has pledged to expand its existing traineeship scheme to provide 30,000 new traineeships under a £111m funding boost to help young people in England get work experience. The plan is for the expanded scheme to be in place in England from September 2020. 

Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser at the CIPD, said that in the past the traineeship scheme had been positively received as a pathway to further learning, apprenticeships or employment. But, she explained, adding that this increase in traineeships needed to be part of a larger package around job creation measures. "It's unlikely there will be jobs for these young people to go into at the end of their placement,” she warned.

1pm Pret A Manger to cut 1,000 jobs

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is expected to cut at least 1,000 jobs from an overall restructuring exercise. This came as the firm announced the closure of 30 outlets. Pret said the impact of Covid-19 on trading meant it had to make a "difficult decision", and it needed to reduce headcount across its shops to "reflect lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures".

As well as closing 30 shops before the end of the year, Pret said the number of workers in other shops will be reduced, support teams will be restructured and a sale process will be started for the lease of its main support office in London Victoria. The announcement comes as Pret said 339 of its 410 shops across the UK have reopened following the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

12.30pm Maintaining diversity and inclusion efforts during Covid-19

As businesses ease out of lockdown and the inevitable cost-cutting begins, employers should make sure D&I doesn’t drop off their to do list, advises Alison Woods.

12.20pm Where will we work post Covid-19?

Justine James makes the case for employers to offer a balance of office and home working once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

9.40am Several universities facing insolvency due to Covid 

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that up to 13 of the UK’s 165 universities face a “very real prospect” of insolvency, due to coronavirus. While the IFS does not name the universities in question, it claims that the least prestigious are at the greatest risk. 

IFS researchers told the BBC the crisis poses a “significant financial threat” and predicts the total size of the sector’s losses could be anywhere between £3bn and £19bn, equal to between 7.5 per cent and almost half the sector's annual income.

9.10am Arts venues to be given £1.57bn government support

The government has unveiled a £1.57bn support package to help protect the future of UK theatres, galleries, museums and other cultural venues, which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden told BBC Breakfast that the package is all "new money" and has two broad aims – to preserve "crown jewel" venues like the Royal Albert Hall and national galleries, while also helping local institutions across the UK. 

As well as theatres and museums, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be eligible for the government support. This follows many theatres and venues saying they will be forced to make staff redundant in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The government is also expected to publish guidance for a phased return of the performing arts, starting with performances behind closed doors, but no official date for publication has been set. 

8.40am Government to announce traineeship funding scheme to boost employment

The government is pledging to provide 30,000 new traineeships to get young people in England into work, as fears about mounting unemployment after the coronavirus pandemic increase. Under the £111m government-funded boost, businesses in England will be given £1,000 for each traineeship they offer. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive £21m for similar schemes.

The traineeship funding is set to be announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday (8 July) when he will unveil the UK's economic plan to deal with the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

Friday 3 July

4.20pm Potential collapse of childcare sector puts women’s careers at risk, says Fawcett Society 

The Fawcett Society, the Federation of Small Businesses and a number of MPs have written to chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for immediate action for the childcare sector, describing it as “significantly harmed” by the current coronavirus crisis. According to the Guardian, the letter called on Sunak to protect women’s contributions to the economy, as social distancing has put limits on the capacity of nurseries, while a drastic fall in parental income has impacted the financial buoyancy of many childcare providers.

3.10pm Unions call for early pay rise for NHS staff

Unions representing some 1.3 million NHS workers have written to the government calling for talk on pay rises to begin at the end of this year, to reflect the effort staff have put into combatting the coronavirus crisis, the Guardian has reported.

Health workers are nearing the end of a three-year pay deal agreed under David Cameron in 2018. Writing to the current prime minister and chancellor, the coalition of 14 unions – including Unison, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, GMB and Unite – have asked for an early pay rise to show that workers in the health service are valued. The letter also calls for any pay rise to be extended to private contractors working within the NHS.

2.15pm Is D&I the key to surviving this crisis?

The Covid-19 crisis is likely to trigger a recession on a massive scale. However, it has also helped us see each other in a more human way, and the companies build a diverse and inclusive workforce and that get inclusion right will be more likely to survive, argues Caroline Whaley.

2pm Could Covid-19 help curb executive pay?

Executive pay has attracted criticism in recent years from investors, lenders, industry bodies and the government. Now, the coronavirus crisis also presents new lenses through which to view the issues, with the press quick to call out those who misstep. William Granger explains how the outbreak has affected the debate around excessive remuneration for senior managers.

10.20am Jobs postings increase as hospitality reopens

The number of unique job postings hit 990,000 in the last week of June – an increase of 27,000 from the first week of the month, figures from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) have found. It said hospitality was the one of the largest drivers of the increase as pubs and bars prepare to reopen in England this week, with the number of active job postings increasing by 57 per cent for bar staff and 63 per cent for waiting staff between the first and last weeks of June.

Construction roles, including glazers, bricklayers and roofers also saw an increase in job postings. “The effects of easing the lockdown are clearly reflected in jobs postings data,” said Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC. “While many hospitality and construction firms will start by taking staff off furlough, the market for new jobs in these sectors is starting to improve from the record lows of the past few months.”

10am Workplace outbreaks of coronavirus double in last week

The number of suspected cases of coronavirus outbreaks in workplaces has doubled over the last week, Public Health England (PHE) has said. Figures released by PHE, and reported by the Guardian, showed in the week ending 28 June there were 43 acute respiratory outbreaks in workplaces – 22 more than the previous week. It added that workplaces were the only place where the spread of the virus was clearly increasing, and that transmissions were in decline in most other settings.

9am Bars, restaurants and cafes in Northern Ireland reopen 

Hotels, bars and restaurants can reopen in Northern Ireland from today, after the tourism industry lobbied for earlier reopening.  

Pubs and bars, which were originally slated to open from 20 July, must serve food on a table service basis, and those pubs who do not sell food will only be allowed to sell alcohol outdoors. Tourist attractions such as museums and heritage sites can also reopen.

Thursday 2 July

5.40pm Casual Dining Group goes into administration 

The owner of high street restaurant chains Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia has gone into administration according to BBC reports. A total of 91 Casual Dining Group outlets will “close immediately” and 1,900 of its 6,000 staff will lose their jobs. 

The closure follows a raft of high street retailers and restaurants that have been financially impacted by the crisis. 

2.30pm Scotland announce mandatory use of face coverings in shops 

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the use of face coverings will become mandatory for customers in Scotland’s shops, as it enters ‘stage three’ of its Covid-19 route map from 9 July. Sturgeon said only young children and people with certain health conditions would be exempt from the mandatory ruling.

This stage will also see a relaxation of the physical distancing rule in pubs and restaurants when they can reopen on 15 July, but only if plastic screens or better ventilation is assured for patrons. Businesses will be expected to display “clear signage” to indicate the requirement for one-metre social distancing, and to collect a list of customer contact details to help trace them if an outbreak occurs. 

1.20pm New ‘office for talent’ will attract skills from abroad, says government

The government is to create an ‘office for talent’ as part of a bid to make the UK a more attractive destination for highly skilled individuals from abroad. Part of the government’s Research and Development Roadmap, launched by business secretary Alok Sharma yesterday (1 July), the new body will work with businesses and research institutions, such as UK Research and Innovation, to make it easier for individual researchers and scientists to move to the UK.

Sharma said that as part of the roadmap, the government would work with businesses and research institutions to develop policies to attract and retain science and engineering talent from overseas. This would start by expanding the global talent visa – launched earlier this year – to allow scientists and researchers to apply to move to the UK before securing a job.

12.40pm Investing in green recovery post Covid could create 1.6 million jobs, says study

Investing in green recovery could create 1.6 millions new jobs after the coronavirus crisis has ended, according to research. The report, compiled by think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), called on the government to invest urgently in a “jobs-led recovery” for the economy after the pandemic, focused on helping the UK meet its targets for improving air quality, lowering carbon dioxide emissions and restoring nature.

The IPPR warned that the investment promised so far on green recovery fell short of what was needed, with more required in order to create “clean, low-carbon jobs”. By investing in this area, the IPPR calculated the UK could create 1.6 million new jobs, which it argued offered the most effective route out of a post-coronavirus economic crisis. 

11.50am 10 workplace shifts caused by Covid – and their lasting effects

Rohit Talwar asks what new ways of thinking and working could take hold or be abandoned as we move beyond lockdown.

10am Arcadia Group to axe 500 head office jobs 

Arcadia Group, which owns high street retailers Miss Selfridge, Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, has announced it is restructuring its head office resulting in 500 job cuts. The group initially furloughed nearly all of its 2,500 head office employees, while senior leadership and board members took pay cuts of between 25 and 50 per cent. A spokesperson for the group said the impact of Covid-19 has meant a restructure was “essential to ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible during these very challenging times”. 

8.20am Welsh pubs and restaurants can open outdoors from 13 July

Some pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in Wales will be able to reopen their outdoor areas from 13 July under new Welsh government plans. Venues with outdoor spaces will be able to open to the public as long as coronavirus cases continue to fall, but indoor services will remain closed for now. More details on the reopening plans are expected at today's Welsh government press conference.

7.30am Clydesdale Bank recommences job cut plans put on hold during lockdown

Clydesdale Bank, now renamed Virgin Money, is to cut 300 roles as it closes branches in Scotland. The merger of the Glasgow-based lender with Virgin Money sees the removal of overlapping branches in areas across the country. The plan, which was announced in February, was put on hold when lockdown began. However, the bank has returned to the proposal, and Virgin Money announced the number of job losses – initially placed at 500 – would be reduced to 300 as more staff were deployed to customer service roles. Employees who would have been made redundant will be offered the option to keep working until 20 October to offer additional support to vulnerable customers in the wake of coronavirus. 

Lucy Dimes, group business transformation officer at Virgin Money UK, said: "While the decision to recommence these redundancies and branch closures has not been taken lightly, we are committed to integrating Virgin Money under one brand as a sustainable, innovative business that invests in improving its customer offer for the future."

Wednesday 1 July

3.45pm Harveys falls into administration but Bensons for Beds saved 

Administrators have announced that furniture chain Harveys will go into administration, but confirmed the survival of Bensons for Beds retail chain as part of a deal that will save 1,899 jobs. Harveys has joined many other high street retailers also financially impacted by Covid-19, by going into administration. It confirmed the immediate loss of 240 jobs but announced plans to retain 1,300 staff in the hope of securing a buyer. Administrators PwC confirmed a buyer had been secured for the Bensons for Beds arm, but a buyer for Harveys had yet to be found. Zelf Hussain, joint administrator and PwC deals partner, said the group had faced challenging trading conditions and cash flow pressures, “exacerbated by the effects of coronavirus on the supply chain and customer sales”. 

2.50pm Walkers confirms 28 Covid-19 cases at Leicester site

Snack manufacturer Walkers has confirmed 28 positive cases of Covid-19 at its Leicester site. The business, which employs 1,400 people across the site in Beaumont Leys, said it had seen a "steady increase" in the number of confirmed cases in June. The Leicester-based company said its track and trace procedure indicated the transmission of the virus was "not in our factory", believing the rise coincided “with the rollout and uptake of testing" in the city.

A Walkers spokesperson said: "We have shared our data and analysis with the health authorities, and they support the view that our situation reflects transmission in the community and we do not have a transmission issue onsite." Walkers added employees with a confirmed or suspected case were self-isolating on full pay. The news followed the government confirming earlier this week that it would tighten lockdown in Leicester following a spike in cases.

1.30pm Business groups call for greater job protection as PM announces Covid-19 ‘new deal’

Business groups have called for more to be done to protect jobs and boost skills as the prime minister yesterday (30 June) announced a ‘new deal’ to revitalise the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Speaking at an event in Dudley, Boris Johnson outlined what he described as an “ambitious” plan to use the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to fix some of the longstanding problems the UK has faced around skills, productivity, housing and the NHS.

As well as announcing a £5bn investment plan that includes money for hospital improvements, road maintenance and new schools, Johnson also reannounced plans to guarantee every young person the opportunity to start an apprenticeship. However, Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, called for a “jobs-first recovery” and warned more needed to be done to prevent unemployment.“The prime minister’s commitment to upgrade and decarbonise our transport infrastructure, in all UK regions and nations, lays strong foundations… [but] more is needed to prevent the uneven scarring unemployment leaves on communities,” she said.

1pm John Lewis and other retailers plan job cuts

Department store owner John Lewis has announced it is planning to cut jobs and stores in an effort to slash costs. The news came as Topshop owner Arcadia and luxury department store Harrods said they planned to cut as many as 1,180 jobs between them. John Lewis's plans were first shared with staff (who collectively own the company), with the number of stores and jobs to be affected yet to be decided. 

In a statement, John Lewis said it had come to the realisation that "we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now", and that it was unlikely the chain would reopen all stores as a result. This recent announcement followed a warning from the company in March that it could close shops, and that a plunge in profits had forced it to cut staff bonuses to their lowest level in almost 70 years.

12.20pm Why helping staff craft their own purpose is more crucial than ever

Julia Smith and Rob Baker explain how people teams can support employees to find their ‘North Star’ during and after the pandemic.

12.10pm Furlough has turned flexible – but what’s really changed?

With the tapering of the job retention scheme officially coming into force today, Paul Kelly discusses what the new rules will mean for businesses and employees.

12pm Nottingham City Council publishes local outbreak plan

Nottingham City Council has published a local outbreak control plan, detailing how it would work with partners, businesses and residents to manage and control a coronavirus outbreak in the city. It comes after councils were asked by the government to lead and manage the risk of potential future local outbreaks, such as the one seen in Leicester.

Alison Challenger, the city's director of public health, said: "[The plan] gives us the power to make the best decisions for our local citizens based on our local knowledge and expertise. We know that every incident will be different and that we will have to assess outbreaks on a case-by-case basis, but having a plan will allow us to respond quickly in a structured way." 

10.30am Belfast Zoo set to reopen this weekend

Belfast Zoo is set to reopen on Sunday (5 July) after it temporarily closed because of the  coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland. However, the zoo said the public will have to book in advance of visiting as no more than 1,000 people will be allowed in on each day. Additionally, the site will have sanitiser stations for visitors, and social distancing signs will be in place around the zoo. 

Alyn Cairns, manager of Belfast Zoo, said he was looking forward to reopening, but added that it would be different to the experience before the zoo closed. He also praised the efforts of staff during lockdown, and said staff levels had "never got to a worrying point". He did not comment on the financial impact the pandemic had on the zoo, but he acknowledged the zoo's closure would result in "some loss". 

9.20am EasyJet plans to close bases and cut staff

Airline easyJet has begun consultations on plans to close bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle. This follows an announcement that the airline may need to reduce its workforce by up to a third because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unite said nearly 1,300 UK crew members faced being made redundant, and pilots’ union Balpa said it had been told by easyJet that 727 UK-based pilots may lose their jobs. Balpa said this was equivalent to one in three easyJet pilots. 

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said: "The lower-demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people. We are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible."

8.10am Upper Crust owner says up to 5,000 UK jobs could go

Upper Crust owner SSP Group has said up to 5,000 jobs could be cut across its UK outlets and head office, as it struggles with the reduction in passenger travel as a result of the pandemic. The firm said global sales in April and May were 95 per cent below the previous year’s. As a result, SSP said it expects only a fifth of its UK outlets at railway stations and airports to be open by the autumn.

SSP employs around 30,000 staff worldwide across 2,500 outlets, including deli operator Camden Food Co and bar chain Cabin. Last month, it said it had suffered "extremely low sales" after the coronavirus crisis forced it to shut some branches.

7.40am Menswear retailer TM Lewin to close all UK shops

TM Lewin has announced it will close all 66 of its UK shops, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. The firm said most of its 700 workers would be laid off as it took all of its sales online to help cut costs in the wake of the pandemic. Torque Brands, a subsidiary of Stonebridge Private Equity, bought the business in May. On Tuesday (30 June), it said it had struck a deal to avoid administration.

In a statement, Torque said the entire retail sector was facing a "very real threat". It said its team had worked to "assess all available avenues for the business model going forwards", but "formed the view that TM Lewin is no longer a viable going concern in its current format". It added: "The decision to significantly reduce the scale of the business in order to preserve its future will regrettably result in job losses at TM Lewin, as a direct result of the closing of the store network as we right-size the business."

7.20am Plane maker Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs

Airbus has said it plans to cut 15,000 jobs globally, including 1,700 jobs in the UK, as it deals with the effects of the coronavirus crisis. About 134,000 people work for Airbus worldwide, and around a tenth of them in the UK. The plane manufacturer said the UK cuts would fall only on the commercial aircraft division in its two sights at Broughton in Flintshire and Filton, Bristol. 

The move to cut jobs is subject to talks with unions, which have opposed the decision. Unite said the Airbus announcement was "another act of industrial vandalism" against the UK aerospace sector. Unite said it expected 1,116 manufacturing jobs and 611 office-based jobs to go, shrinking Airbus's UK workforce by 15 per cent. But Airbus has not yet confirmed any details.

Tuesday 30 June

5.10pm Employers in Leicester able to re-furlough staff

Downing Street has confirmed that the furlough scheme can still be utilised by firms that are affected by the imposed ‘local lockdown’ measures. 

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “If employers have used the furlough scheme at any point between 1 March and 30 June, which of course many will have, they can re-furlough those employees from 1 July.” They also clarified that non-essential workers in retail who have been able to return to work, but now face another closure, will be eligible for the furlough scheme. This applies nationwide but “obviously it’s a particular circumstance to Leicester”. 

1.45pm Nine assembly line workers at Mini factory test positive for coronavirus 

Nine assembly line workers at the BMW-owned Mini car factory in Cowley, Oxford have tested positive for coronavirus. Eight of the nine staff affected were from one section of the assembly line and on the same shift, while one was from a different section. The BBC reported that a BMW spokesperson confirmed it was “monitoring the situation” and was in talks with Public Health England, and said it was operating “fully in line with government health and safety guidance”. 

1.25pm Half of BAME staff feel obliged to hide their personalities, survey finds

A study by consultancy Utopia has found that more than half of ethnic minority workers feel they have to mask part of their identity to fit in at the office as a result of pressure to aspire to a certain expression of professionalism that favoured their white counterparts. 

The research also found more than half of BAME workers (52 per cent) were afraid to show vulnerability at work for fear of being judged, compared to just 39 per cent of white employees. Tolu Farinto, changemaker at Utopia, said BAME staff – particularly those in the black community – faced pressure to form faux identities because businesses perpetuated cultures that expected workers to “act white”. 

1.20pm Handing over senior management functions during Covid-19

Merrill April and David Jones explain how organisations can manage handovers legally amid a crisis.

1.15pm How to protect the ability to adapt during a crisis

Harnessing our natural human capability to embrace change is critical to moving beyond fear into action growth, says Camelia Ram.

11.30am Many museums and galleries in England delay reopening

Many English galleries and museums will not reopen on 4 July, despite being given the go-ahead by the government to do so. Last week, the government confirmed that museums and galleries could open from Saturday 4 July, as could cinemas, pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, libraries, theme parks and zoos.

However, the National Gallery said it will be welcoming visitors from 8 July and will be the first major London gallery to reopen its doors after lockdown restrictions are lifted. The Royal Academy also announced its plans today to reopen from 9 July, with face masks compulsory. The Barbican gallery will open on 13 July. Tate said its four venues would not reopen their doors until 27 July. In their announcements, the National Gallery, Tate, Barbican and Royal Academy all said visitors would need to book timed tickets in advance to help keep social distancing measures in place.

11am Cineworld delays reopening of UK cinemas to 31 July

Cineworld, the world's second-largest cinema chain, has pushed back the reopening of its UK cinemas to 31 July, blaming a delay in new film releases. The chain previously said it would reopen theatres in both the UK and the US on 10 July. But Cineworld said it has pushed back opening up cinemas to the public as films, including Disney's live action remake Mulan and Christopher Nolan's Tenant, have been delayed. 

In a statement, the company said the move was "in line with recent adjustments to the schedule of upcoming movie releases". When it does open its doors, Cineworld said there would be measures in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission including seating capacity limits and contactless payments. 

9.30am UK unemployment could hit 9 per cent

Unemployment in the UK is expected to hit 9 per cent as the furlough scheme is wound down, the latest monetary policy report from the Bank of England has warned. The Times reported that the bank had also forecast output would shrink 14 per cent over the coming year, and that it would take two years for the economy to recover to pre-Covid levels. Separately, figures from the ONS have shown the UK economy shrank 2.2 per cent between January and March, the joint largest fall since 1979 and larger than the 2 per cent initially estimated.

9.20am Local lockdown in Leicester confirmed

The government has confirmed it will tighten lockdown in Leicester following a spike in cases in the city. As well as shutting non-essential shops from today and closing schools for most pupils on Thursday (2 July) – to give parents time to make necessary childcare arrangements – the loosening of restrictions on pubs and other hospitality venues happening across the rest of the country on Saturday (4 July) will not happen in Leicester. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the city had seen 10 per cent of all positive cases in England this week.

Monday 29 June

1.20pm Just one in 10 parents want to return to the office full time, survey finds

The majority of working parents wish to keep flexible working arrangements brought on by the coronavirus crisis after lockdown restrictions are eased, according to a survey, with just one in 10 (13 per cent) wanting to return to the office full time. More than half (55 per cent) said they would choose to spend no more than three days at their office with the rest working from home after lockdown restrictions have been relaxed. Furthermore, 15 per cent said they wished to continue working remotely permanently after lockdown, and 14 per cent said they would like to work from home the majority of the time, visiting the office just once a week.

The survey, conducted by Bright Horizons with the help of, Families Magazine and, found that while nearly all respondents (96 per cent) worked mostly or exclusively in offices or other places of work before lockdown, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) had been working from home since lockdown began. More than half (53 per cent) agreed further flexibility would increase their productivity, and a similar number (58 per cent) said it would increase their loyalty to their organisation. Only 6 per cent and 5 per cent respectively disagreed.

12.40pm Think tank calls for continued wage subsidies in hospitality and retail

The UK needs a ‘job protection scheme’ in the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis to subsidise wage costs after the furlough scheme ends, a think tank has said. As the government prepares to wind down its job retention scheme, the Resolution Foundation has argued that continued government support is needed in sectors including hospitality, retail and leisure to prevent job losses.

In its report, the think tank warned that while these sectors were expected to enjoy something of a bounceback when they reopened at the end of this week, ongoing social distancing measures were likely to have a dampening effect. It noted that trips to the shops in France and Germany were still down 17 and 13 per cent respectively, despite both countries having reopened their economies significantly more than the UK.

12.20pm Gender pay reporting in the age of coronavirus

With this year’s requirements suspended, organisations should use this time to continue collecting data and build better processes for compliance, say Beth Hale and David Jones.

12pm Give more power to your people as they return to work

Now is a good time to remember the importance of handing staff control, says Sarah Jackson – it will help your business survive Covid-19.

9.20am Pubs and restaurants in Leicester could remain closed as cases spike 

A surge in coronavirus cases could see pubs and restaurants in Leicester remain closed for a further two weeks, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has said. 

Soulsby told BBC Radio 4 that the measures were “very different from the dramatic ‘lockdown in Leicester’ that was being briefed over the weekend”. He said: "What they're suggesting is not a return to lockdown. It seems they're suggesting we continue the present level of restriction for a further two weeks, beyond 4 July." 

8.30am More shops and workplaces reopen as lockdown restrictions ease in Scotland

Shops with on-street access and some workplaces such as factories are reopening following an easing of Scotland's lockdown. The reading of the restrictions is the first time many stores and workplaces will see people return since the Scottish lockdown came into effect on 23 March. This move forms part of phase two of the Scottish government's easing of lockdown, and further restrictions are due to be eased later this week. 

But despite the change, the government urged people to continue following social distancing rules and advised shoppers to wear face coverings inside shops. The easing of lockdown rules will also allow safari parks and zoos to be reopened to local guests, small weddings and civil partnerships can now be held outdoors and play parks can also reopen.

Friday 26 June

3.50pm Social care workers at increased risk of death from coronavirus, ONS finds

Social care workers, including care workers and home carers, have significantly raised rates of death involving Covid-19, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The research, which analysed deaths involving the coronavirus in different occupational groups, found men working in social care in England and Wales are 2.5 times (rates of 50.1 deaths per 100,000 men) more likely to die from Covid-19 than working-age men as a whole. Women who work in social care also had a mortality rate twice that of working age women more generally, with rates of 19.1 deaths per 100,000 women (171 deaths).

Commenting on the research, Suzie Bailey, director of leadership and organisational development at the King’s Fund, said care staff have been "let down" by the government, and it was clear that the sector had been "neglected" during the pandemic with "disastrous consequences". She said: "The virus still poses a very real threat and care workers need to be prioritised and protected. Social care must never again be treated as an afterthought to the NHS, but as an equal partner in an interdependent system."

2.20pm Long-serving BA cabin crew told to accept pay cut or lose their jobs

British Airways has told its longest-serving cabin crew they face a 20 per cent pay cut or they will lose their jobs. In an email sent last night which was seen by the BBC, the airline said the aviation industry would look "very different" after the coronavirus crisis. Under a new plan to help BA weather the pandemic, long-serving cabin crew will need to re-sign under new terms, which include a pay cut. The airline says these terms will bring longer-serving, better paid staff in line with newer recruits who earn "market-competitive" salary rates. 

The move is the latest offer in BA's ongoing consultations with Heathrow-based staff. The airline has said up to 12,000 jobs could go from the 42,000-strong workforce. However, MPs have called BA's plans "a national disgrace". A recent report by the transport select committee accused the airline of a "calculated attempt to take advantage" of the pandemic by cutting thousands of jobs and downgrading workers' terms and conditions.

1.40pm Charity warns millions of migrants risking their health to work

Nearly 1.4 million people in the UK cannot access public funds because of their immigration status, a charity estimates, with many risking their health in order to keep working during the pandemic. Research by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford suggests some 1,376,158 people have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) because their immigration status is not finalised. Citizens Advice, which shared the research, said this meant many non-EU migrants cannot access most benefits, such as Universal Credit, child benefit, housing benefit, and a range of allowances and tax credits.

As a result, the charity says some migrants have faced the “impossible choice” between returning to work while ill so they can continue to earn, and staying at home, as per public health guidance, but losing their income. Citizens Advice said since 11 March, the day Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, it has been supporting someone regarding concerns about NRPF every 20 minutes on average. The research found migrants from non-EEA countries are disproportionately more likely to work in frontline roles, including in healthcare, social care and security. 

1.10pm Plymouth City Council staff facing redundancy as £10m in cuts announced

Plymouth City Council has confirmed it is offering voluntary redundancies to all staff as part of a package to save £10m. The council said the voluntary release scheme is hoped to help avoid compulsory cuts. But Plymouth Unison said the redundancy measures are "no kind of reward" for staff's efforts after working "incredibly hard to respond to a crisis not in their making".

However, the council said the voluntary scheme will help contribute to the £10m savings needed to balance the books this financial year. It praised staff for maintaining services while "dealing with these ongoing financial challenges". Unison called for "immediate investment" in councils by the government to balance all councils’ budgets without requiring them to make cuts as a result of the crisis.

1pm Half of Newcastle’s Theatre Royal staff facing redundancy

Almost half of Theatre Royal staff in Newcastle are facing redundancy as the venue deals with the “devastating” impact of the pandemic. It is the latest venue in the performing arts sector to report redundancy plans, following the likes of Theatre Royal Plymouth, Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake and the Wales Millennium Centre. The Newcastle Theatre Royal, which last week announced it would remain closed until November, said it would be making 44 of its 89 full and part-time staff redundant as it grapples with loss of income since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

The theatre said in the statement that it is unable to reopen until social distancing measures are removed, and it will have to significantly reduce the size of its workforce as a result. It added the majority of the remaining staff would be asked to go on to a retainer, and just 13 staff continuing to work on reduced hours and pay. The government has published a five-stage roadmap to help get England’s beleaguered theatres, concert halls and arts centres back up and running, but it has yet to announce a definitive timeline for when this plan will be implemented. 

12.45pm Government proposes extending furlough fraud reporting window

The amnesty period for employers to self-report any cases of ‘furlough fraud’ to the government is to be extended to three months, according to proposed amendments to the finance bill

Under a draft bill going through parliament, employers that have either knowingly misused the furlough scheme, or think they may have accidentally done so, will be given a 90-day window to admit their mistake to the government – up from 30 days in a previous draft of the bill.

The new draft legislation will also extend HMRC’s powers to check that any coronavirus-related grants made to employees have been used correctly – in the case of the furlough scheme, to pay workers’ wages – and to ensure employers have not been overpaid in any form of reimbursement.

12pm Mike Ashley could be investigated by HMRC over ‘abuse of furlough scheme’

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley's retail empire is alleged to be at the top of an HMRC list of businesses to investigate after a series of complaints were made around alleged breaches of the government’s job retention scheme, according to reports by the i newspaper. HMRC is reported to be considering a number of complaints made against Ashley’s Frasers Group – which includes House of Fraser, Sports Direct and Evans Cycles – from staff who allege they were asked to work while on furlough. If proven to be true, this would be a breach of the furlough scheme's rules and may lead to the government claiming back millions in fraudulent furlough payments.

An HMRC source told i that Ashley was one of the names at the top of what he called a “hit list”, and that a number of other household names were also being looked into, including Sir Philip Green's retail empire Arcadia. The source said: "We’re already looking into whether we can claw back some Covid cash from them. If there’s any way we can, we will. So far it’s looking like there is a case for both to answer."

11.55am How Covid-19 has demolished traditional office structures

The pandemic is enabling organisations to reset and rethink how they operate in future, says Siobhan Brunwin, people director at MullenLowe Group UK. 

11.50am How to return from lockdown safely – and legally

Employment lawyer Shilpen Savani outlines some of the potential pitfalls facing employers bringing workers back to the workplace, from safe conditions to redundancy consultations. 

10.30am Unions say inadequate protection for taxi drivers is ‘unforgivable’ 

Drivers, taxi firms and industry bodies have said national safety guidance for taxi drivers is urgently needed, as figures show the profession has the highest rate of Covid-19 deaths. 

Currently, Scotland is the only part of the UK where it is mandatory for passengers to wear masks. Many firms are providing PPE and sanitiser but some drivers are having to foot the bill, while struggling financially. 

James Farrar, from the App Drivers and Couriers Union, said it was "unforgivable" drivers had been working for the last three months without suitable protection and advice, adding the government advice was “contradictory”.

9.40am One in 10 business premises permanently closed due to pandemic, survey finds

Almost one in 10 London businesses have permanently closed premises as a result of the pandemic, research by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has found. Of the 500 business leaders polled, 9 per cent have permanently closed physical premises during the lockdown. A further 13 per cent said their company was planning not to use an office once the lockdown was over, while more than a third (37 per cent) would allow staff to work from home more often. 

Richard Burge, chief executive of the LCCI, said Covid-19 had shown firms "that their business can truly operate remotely", but called on the government to "stay open to the need of targeted sector support". The LCCI research also found 28 per cent of London businesses have furloughed at least one member of their staff, and a fifth (20 per cent) said they planned to make cuts to their workforce as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

7.40am No date set for Welsh pubs reopening

Work is "ongoing" on when pubs can reopen but no date has been set, a Welsh government minister has told the BBC. Wales is the only UK nation without a planned reopening date for the pub trade. On Wednesday, the Scottish government announced beer gardens could reopen there from 6 July, and pubs and restaurants can fully reopen from 15 July. The hospitality sector is due to reopen in England from 4 July, while in Northern Ireland pubs and hotels can open on 3 July.

The Welsh government has promised a "rapid review" to consider a phased reopening.  Finance minister Rebecca Evans said discussions were taking place with the industry, but said timing could not be provided for when Welsh pubs will reopen "because it's very, very difficult to know where the coronavirus will be in the weeks and months ahead".

7.30am 70 per cent of BAME pharmacists have had no risk assessment, survey finds

Seven in 10 black, Asian and minority ethnic pharmacists have not had workplace risk assessments for coronavirus, according to a survey. The research, carried out by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the UK Black Pharmacists Association, surveyed 380 hospital- and community-based pharmacists, 236 of which were from a BAME background. Of those, 166 (70 per cent) said they had not been approached by their employer to have a risk assessment carried out for Covid-19. 

The RPS said the results were "shocking" and called on employers to take urgent action to ensure ethnic minority pharmacists are risk assessed. Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS, said it was essential that pharmacists were properly risk assessed: "Lessons are to be learned from this pandemic, especially with the risk of a second wave, and we now need action so our workforce is protected." 

7am Megabus to restart London services

Coach operator Megabus will be restarting some services from London as England's leisure and hospitality sector prepares to reopen. Megabus, which suspended operations in April due to the lockdown, said part of its network will run again on 3 July, a day before the UK government has said tourist attractions will be allowed to reopen.

Managing director Mark Venables said the company is "absolutely delighted" to be able to restart its services, but due to social distancing measures there will be reduced capacity on all buses. Megabus said enhanced cleaning and antibacterial stations on board will be part of its new service. 

Thursday 25 June

5.20pm Driving lessons to resume in England 

House of commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has confirmed driving lessons in England are to resume from 4 July, adding there will be a “phased approach” to resuming practical testing. The DVSA told the BBC that "more details will be provided in due course" on how instructors can resume work safely.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will set their own rules for resuming driving lessons and tests. 

5.10pm Rules relaxed to boost hospitality industry 

Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to turn pavements and car parks into outdoor areas in new proposals to boost the hospitality industry in England and Wales. 

The government’s business and planning bill will make it easier for pubs and restaurants in England and Wales to apply for pavement licences, so seating areas can be arranged outside of premises, ahead of reopening on 4 July. The temporary laws will see consultation periods for applications drop from 28 calendar days to five working days, with automatic consent granted if there is no council decision after 10 working days. The application fee will also be lowered to £100.

12.45pm Recruitment firms urge government to extend sick pay rebate scheme

Trade bodies for the UK’s recruitment industry have written to the financial secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman, calling for an expansion of the rebate scheme helping employers meet statutory sick pay (SSP) costs during the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Norman, bosses at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, the Association of Labour Providers, the Association of Professional Staffing Companies and recruitment network Team have urged the government to extend the SSP rebate scheme to cover organisations with more than 250 staff.

Under the scheme, introduced to support businesses through the outbreak, businesses employing fewer than 250 people can claim back up to two weeks’ SSP for employees who have taken time off as a result of being ill with coronavirus. However, signatories to the letter argued recruitment and agency firms, which tended to retain a large number of staff, lacked the cashflow to pay for the high numbers of SSP claims they were exposed to. “Our largest members have agency worker payrolls running into the tens of thousands, dwarfing their direct employee numbers,” the letter said.

12.20pm Two-fifths of Brits now travelling to work, official figures show

More than two-fifths of the UK adult working population are travelling to work, official figures have shown, as the country begins to emerge from lockdown. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found 44 per cent of working adults in Britain travelled to their place of work at least once in the last seven days – up from 41 per cent the previous week. At the same time, the percentage of staff working exclusively from home dropped from 38 per cent to 33 per cent last week, which the ONS said marked a shift away from remote working.

The figures, released today (25 June), followed the announcement of the largest relaxation of social distancing rules since the lockdown began. As well as confirming the majority of businesses could reopen on 4 July, prime minister Boris Johnson has said that where it was not possible to implement the two-metre distancing rule companies would be allowed to reduce this to at least one metre.

11.45am How employers can deal with heatwaves during lockdown

With so many people working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, Simon Robinson outlines businesses’ responsibilities around working in hot weather.

11.40am Maintaining diversity during an economic crisis

As Lorna Fitzsimons explains, firms need to avoid thoughtless restructures during difficult times and preserve the minorities in their workforces.

8.45am Qantas to cut 6,000 jobs

Airline Qantas is to cut around a fifth of its workforce, citing the collapse in global air travel as a result of the coronavirus pandemic devastating revenues. In March, it furloughed more than 80 per cent of its staff, with chief executive Alan Joyce saying the airline, Australia’s national carrier, would extend furlough for about 15,000 workers – around half of its workforce – as it waited “for the recovery we know is coming". "The actions we must take will have a huge impact on thousands of our people," Joyce said in a statement. "But the collapse in billions of dollars in revenue leaves us little choice if we are to save as many jobs as possible, long term."

8.30am Royal Mail to axe 2,000 management jobs

Royal Mail is to cut 2,000 management jobs, about a fifth of its managers, as it struggles to deal with the effects of the coronavirus crisis. The company said the outbreak had accelerated the trends of more parcels and fewer letters being sent, and that it had not adapted quickly enough to that change in the market. The job losses will mainly affect back-office roles, including finance, commercial and IT, and the most senior roles. Frontline postal staff were unlikely to be affected because Royal Mail needed to preserve "quality of service", a spokesman said.

Wednesday 24 June

4.40pm Cineworld staff launch petition to require customers to wear face masks

Staff at cinema chain Cineworld have launched a petition calling for visitors to be required to wear face coverings when venues reopen on 10 July. The petition was created by the Cineworld Action Group, a group of UK employees that also campaigned for fairer pay during the coronavirus pandemic. The petition suggests that, as a minimum, customers should be required to wear masks in “high-traffic areas” such as foyers, concession stands and corridors. 

According to the group, staff only learned of the company’s plans to require all employees (but not customers) to wear face masks via an interview given by the organisation’s CEO, Mooky Greidinger, in The Hollywood Reporter. In the interview, in which he was asked about the company’s operations in both the US and the UK, Greidinger said teams “will be wearing masks as long as it’s a requirement from the government”. Currently, the UK government has mandated the use of face coverings on public transport, but only advises wearing one in other enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. The petition states Cineworld staff are still awaiting clarification on all precautions from the company’s initial announcement. 

2.45pm Scottish pubs and restaurants allowed to reopen from 15 July

Pubs and restaurants in Scotland will be able to reopen from 15 July, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced. Beer gardens will be allowed to reopen from Monday 6 July, and from 10 July people in Scotland will be able to meet indoors with up to two other households. Hairdressers and holiday accommodation will also be able to reopen from the 15th. 

This means many hospitality businesses will reopen in Scotland almost two weeks after they are allowed to do so in England. The latest Scottish lockdown easings will not apply to those who are shielding, who have been told they should await further advice before the end of July. Sturgeon also said the two-metre social distancing rule would continue to apply in Scotland, unlike in England, where a ‘one metre plus’ rule will be adopted from July. 

1.30pm What do the government’s new reopening guidelines mean for employers?

Following yesterday’s announcement that more businesses can reopen with ‘one metre plus’ social distancing, People Management explores the practicalities

12.25pm Recruitment firms urge government to extend statutory sick pay rebate scheme

Trade bodies for the UK’s recruitment industry have written to the financial secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman MP, calling for an expansion of the rebate scheme helping employers meet statutory sick pay (SSP) payments during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The government currently refunds employers with fewer than 250 staff 14 days worth of SSP where the illness is Covid-19 related. However, the letter, signed by the bosses of organisations including the Recruitment & Employment Confederation and the Association of Labour Providers, calls for this scheme be extended to all employers. The signatories say recruitment firms, which retain large numbers of agency staff, “simply do not have the cashflow to finance high numbers of SSP payments”, highlighting additional concerns about “the impact of self-isolation, in particular ‘test and trace’ absences, in the coming months into winter and beyond”.

11.55am Aviation company could halve UK workforce

Airport ground handling company Swissport isis consulting on cutting more than 4,500 UK jobs, as the coronavirus crisis continues to hit the air travel industry. The baggage and cargo handling firm, which employs around 8,500 staff and operates at UK airports including Heathrow and Gatwick, said its revenue is forecast to shrink by almost half this year, and it would have to reduce its workforce in order to survive. It is consulting on cutting up to 4,556 jobs, according to the GMB union. 

The company’s chief executive, Jason Holt, said in a message to staff that action had to be taken to protect the organisation’s funding, and to protect as many jobs as possible in the UK and Ireland. “It's true that we've seen tough times before – volcanic cloud, 9/11, the financial crisis – and we've weathered these. But this time it's different. We have never seen anything like Covid-19 in our lifetimes,” he said. “There is no escaping the fact that the industry is now smaller than it was, and it will remain so for some time to come."

10.45am Coronavirus crisis could worsen income inequality, experts warn

The coronavirus pandemic could magnify the gap between the highest and lowest earners in the UK, a financial services company has suggested. With employees who are able to work from home (and therefore less likely to be furloughed or made redundant during lockdown) likely to earn more than those who cannot, Hargreaves Lansdown has said the crisis could spur a further widening of the gap between the richest and the poorest. “Even before the virus struck the gap was widening, and the crisis will have stretched it even further,” said Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. 

Earlier this week, research from the Resolution Foundation found that lower-income households were twice as likely as richer ones to have increased their debts during the crisis, while higher-income households were able to build up savings, as there has been no opportunity to take holidays abroad or go out to eat. 

9.35am Leisure organisations criticise order to remain shut as pubs reopen

Sports and leisure organisations have challenged the government’s decision to reopen businesses such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas from 4 July, while sports facilities and swimming pools have been ordered to remain shut. 

In a statement, health club chain PureGym said while it understood difficult decisions had to be made, “it is a strange ‘war on obesity’ that sees pubs and restaurants open before gyms”. Jane Nickerson, chief executive of Swim England, also questioned the latest lockdown easing rules. “It appears that it is OK to sit on the couch watching professional sport, go out for a high-calorie meal and then go to the pub but you can’t go for a swim, which provides a sanitised environment,” she said. 

Boris Johnson expressed regret that not all sporting and leisure venues could reopen, but said current plans were “as far as we can go for now”. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said there was an aspiration for gyms and leisure centres to reopen in mid-July, subject to the agreement of public health authorities.

Tuesday 23 June

3.55pm More pressure should be put on employers to publish Covid risk assessments, union says

The government needs to “crank up” pressure on employers to publish their risk assessments as more staff return to work, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned. 

Government guidance states that organisations with more than 50 employees should publish their risk assessments. However, according to the TUC, many employers with staff back at work are yet to do so. Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said it was important for the government to “crank up the pressure on employers to publish their risk assessments, so that people have the confidence that it is safe to return to work”, adding that this measure was “particularly important for vulnerable and shielded workers”. 

She also suggested the law be changed to make it illegal not to publish Covid risk assessments, saying voluntary publication was not enough: “Those who fail to keep their workers safe must be fined – and, if necessary, shut down.”

2.55pm Shoe Zone to close 20 branches as a result of ‘unprecedented impact’ of Covid-19

Leicester-based retailer Shoe Zone has announced that 20 of its stores will permanently close, and jobs will be cut in its head office following more than two months of lockdown. 

Before retailers were obliged to close in March, Shoe Zone was already in danger of closing up to 100 of its shops if business rates were not changed. It now says 470 of its 490 branches are set to reopen by the end of the month. Chief executive Anthony Smith said the coronavirus pandemic would continue to have an "unprecedented impact" on the UK economy and retail industry for several years.

1.30pm Employees shielding from coronavirus to return to work in August

Employers should show employees that their health and safety is of “paramount importance”, experts have warned, as those who have been shielding are set to return to work from 1 August.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the shielding scheme – designed to protect those at the highest risk from coronavirus – would begin to wind down from next month, with shielders able to leave their homes to socialise in groups of up to six people from July. At the end of July, food and support packages available to those who have been unable to leave home during lockdown will stop, and employers will no longer be able to claim statutory sick pay for staff members who are shielding.

Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, said communication was crucial for employers to ensure any staff who had been shielding felt safe returning to work.

1pm Pubs, restaurants and hotels can reopen from 4 July

In a lunchtime statement to the House of Commons today, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that hospitality businesses including pubs, restaurants and hotels will be allowed to reopen both indoors and outdoors subject to their introducing safety guidelines, including online table service. 

Hair salons and barbers are also permitted to reopen from the same date, with protective visors to be worn by staff. 

Johnson has also changed the two-metre social distancing rules to a ‘one metre plus’ requirement when two metres isn’t possible, caveating the changes by pointing out that "each step will be conditional and reversible". 

12pm Why Covid-19 has been good for introverts

Zoom and Team meetings have drawbacks, but they can be used to give less vocal employees the chance to shine, says communication specialist Shola Kaye

10.15am One in six car industry jobs at risk, trade body warns

The UK’s car industry trade body has said one in six motor manufacturing jobs could be lost without extra government support to restart the sector. 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said emergency funding, as well as business rates holidays, VAT cuts and permanent short-time working, were all needed to avoid major job losses. “A third of our workforce remains furloughed, and we want those staff coming back to work, not into redundancy," said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

Monday 22 June

5pm Hospital staff told whistleblowers would be ‘found and fired’ after Covid-19 memo leak

Campaigners have voiced concerns about a “culture of fear” in the NHS, after an email from a consultant at the Royal Free Hospital in London to a number of staff suggested those responsible for information leaks to the media would be found and fired. 

Dr Daniel Martin OBE, head of intensive care for serious infectious diseases at the Royal Free, emailed dozens of nurses and junior doctors two weeks after an internal memo written by him at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, describing equipment shortages and fears about capacity in ICUs, was shared publicly on social media. The email included a note suggesting the trust would “track any leaks to the media” and then “offer you the chance to post your p45 on Facebook for all to see”. Dr Jenny Vaughan, law and policy officer at Doctors Association UK, described the language used by Martin as “toxic”, and said “when things go wrong we have to make sure lessons are learned, and we have to feel able to speak up”.  

The Royal Free London trust said the email was “badly worded” and did not reflect trust policy, adding it was an open and transparent organisation that “does everything it can to encourage our staff to raise concerns and, if necessary, whistleblow”.

2.50pm Call for new jobs 'guarantee' for young people in Scotland

A group advising Scottish ministers on how to repair the economic crisis caused by coronavirus has called for a jobs guarantee for 16 to 25-year-olds. The panel, which is led by former Tesco Bank boss Benny Higgins, has published a list of recommendations for economic recovery in Scotland, calling for a nationwide scheme to offer at least two years of "secure employment" to young people. 

The report also calls for a "significant increase" in infrastructure investment and targeted measures to support the hospitality and tourism sectors. The Scottish government said it would "develop a detailed response to the report, which will be published before the end of July". First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the jobs guarantee proposal was "potentially very significant as we seek to ensure young people get the opportunities they deserve".

1.40pm Leaked video sparks Pret a Manger job cut fears

A leaked video on social media revealing how sales have plunged at café chain Pret a Manger during the coronavirus crisis has raised fears about job cuts, according to a report by the BBC. In May, the chain called in consultants to help renegotiate its rents to avoid store closures, and said it was putting a "clear plan" in place to deal with reduced footfall, which could involve job cuts. 

In a video to staff that was leaked on Twitter, Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret, said an announcement on the "job situation" would be made in the coming weeks: "What will be the case is, on the 8 July, we'll be doing a broader communication to the teams, just talking through the initial work that's been done on this, so things will start to become clearer from 8 July." He added that Pret's global weekly takings had fallen to £3m, about 15 per cent of what they would normally be during this time. A Pret spokeswoman told the BBC that staff would be the "first to hear about any changes" in the business.

12.30pm JD Sports' Go Outdoors brand likely to enter administration in days

JD Sports is expected to appoint administrators for its Go Outdoors brand, putting thousands of jobs at risk. The brand, which specialises in fishing, cycling and camping gear, has 67 stores across the UK and employs approximately 2,300 workers. On Friday (20 June), JD Sports filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators for the business, and it is understood that Deloitte is likely to lead a restructuring of the company. 

Go Outdoors closed all its stores during April because of the coronavirus lockdown but began to reopen them from early May. However, bosses said the continued restrictions on outdoor activities and campsite closures had impacted on the brand's sales. 

11.50am How to leave lockdown safely… and strategically

The world has changed since the start of the outbreak, says Matt Hamnett. So wellbeing is paramount in returning people to work, but firms must also make conscious strategic decisions.

11.30am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Skanska UK

Harvey Francis, chief HR officer and executive vice president of Skanska UK, shares how the construction firm played a key role in developing sector guidelines and has implemented measures such as one-way systems and staggered start times at its sites.

11.10am Titanic Belfast in discussions with staff as 75 jobs face cut

Workers at popular tourist attraction Titanic Belfast are to meet management later today for emergency talks on the site's plans to make up to 75 employees redundant. The plans were announced last week by chief executive Judith Owens in a statement to everyone on the payroll, saying the 75 roles would be lost from various departments across the organisation. Staff sources told the Belfast Telegraph that casual workers on zero-hours contracts would also be affected by the job cuts and that the total number of people whose jobs could be axed might be closer to between 150 and 200. 

Titanic Belfast closed on 18 March after lockdown measures were imposed, and bosses said it was due to reopen in August. Bosses said the job cuts came as physical distancing, lack of travel opportunities to Northern Ireland and customers' nervousness to return to the site contributed to a 30 per cent drop in annual footfall in comparison to last year. 

9.20am Prime minister to announce if pubs and restaurants can reopen

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Tuesday (23 June) whether the hospitality sector can reopen on 4 July and if the two-metre distancing rule in England can be relaxed. Non-essential shops have already reopened across the UK, with retail activity resuming in Wales today, and health secretary Matt Hancock said England was "clearly on track" to further ease lockdown restrictions. However, the government warned the moves would be reversed if they led to a surge in coronavirus infections. 

Johnson will discuss England's approach to the changes with the Covid-19 Strategy Committee in a meeting today, and will update parliament on the next stage of lockdown easing tomorrow. This is expected to include a review of the two-metre social distancing rule and whether pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers can reopen in July. 

8.50am Non-essential shops reopen in Wales

Non-essential stores in Wales are able to reopen today (22 June) for the first time since coronavirus restrictions were brought in. The Welsh Retail Consortium (WRC) said many shops were in a "fight for survival" as sales plummeted during lockdown. Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Sara Jones, head of the WRC, said Covid restrictions had cost non-food stores £1.7bn a week during April and May, and with sales "expected to remain weak" many would not reopen their doors. She added safety was "the priority" for stores about to reopen and that businesses had been working hard to achieve this.

Friday 19 June

4.55pm Why distance learning holds the key for business survival during Covid-19

Organisations need to bolster their employees’ skills to prepare for future challenges, says Simon Tindall, head of skills and innovation at the Open University. 

3.50pm Vicarious liability during coronavirus

Can businesses be responsible for their employees’ actions when a large proportion of the workforce is working from home? Raoul Parekh and Deborah Margolis at GQ Littler report in light of a recent case. 

2.45pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

With many employees’ priorities turned upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation’s HR director, Kessar Kalim, explains how the university put bureaucracy on the back burner

11.10am Pub boss commits to opening on 4 July in absence of government plans

The founder of pub chain Oakman Inns, which runs 28 pubs across the Home Counties, has said all the company’s venues will be opening for business on 4 July. In a tweet, Peter Borg-Neal said “we cannot wait for the government to make a decision”, and it would be irresponsible for the company to delay opening as to do so would be “putting jobs at risk”. 

The government has said previously that it hoped for hospitality businesses to be able to reopen on 4 July, however it has not yet given a definitive date. “We need to plan ahead, get staff off furlough, remove furniture, install handwashing stations, change layouts in pubs," Borg-Neal told the BBC. "You can't just give us a couple of days' notice and expect us to open safely.” According to Oakman Inns, the government is yet to respond to its announcement. “We can hang around and definitely go bust, or open and see if they destroy us," Borg-Neal said.

10am 50,000 disabled self-employed workers not getting enough government support

Research from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has found more than 50,000 disabled people who became self-employed last year are not getting the support they need from the government during the coronavirus crisis. The study shows disabled self-employed people are also more likely to need financial support as their usual day rate is 12 per cent lower than those who do not report having a disability.

Inna Yordanova, senior researcher at IPSE, said: “This research vividly shows the cost of the gaps in the government support. Many people who are missing out on government financial support are those who are likely to need it most.

“Making up about 14 per cent of the self-employed workforce, disabled people are a huge and important part of the freelancing community, who must not be overlooked in the coronavirus crisis.” 

9.45am Number of unemployed people per job vacancy increases fivefold since coronavirus crisis began

In ex-industrial and inner city areas, there is an average of 20 people claiming unemployment benefits for every job vacancy, analysis from the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) has found – five times the number before the coronavirus crisis began. In 11 UK local authorities, the research suggests the number of unemployed people per vacancy is over 50. 

According to the research, there are 84 unemployed workers per job vacancy in Broxtowe in the East Midlands, an increase of 71 people per vacancy since March this year. Rhondda Cynon Taff in South Wales, the London Borough of Brent and Tameside are also among the areas worst affected. However, the research also found the number of unemployed people per vacancy to be significantly lower in more affluent areas of the country, with Kensington and Chelsea, Chichester and Warwick among the areas with fewer than three unemployed people for each job vacancy.

“There are tentative signs that hiring may now be starting to pick up as businesses start to reopen, but these are very early signs,” said Tony Wilson, director of the IES. “New vacancies are still at barely a third of the levels they were a year ago, and there’s a lot of people working fewer hours than they’d want, or wondering if they will have jobs to go back to after furlough.”

Thursday 18 June

5.30pm Working from home likely to be around for ‘a long time’ following pandemic, Hancock says

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the practice of working from home is likely to “stay with us a long time” at today’s government press briefing. 

Asked if the government will be making remote working easier for employees following the coronavirus crisis, Hancock said that many people have been made aware of the opportunity technology affords us to work from home during lockdown. He said employers should make the practice available where possible and said he would be discussing the topic with the business department. 

5.20pm Non-essential shops in Wales could reopen from Monday

The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, is expected to announce that non-essential retailers in Wales will be able to reopen for business from Monday (June 22), one week after they were allowed to trade again in England. 

However, he is expected to emphasise the importance of maintaining two-metre social distancing, with the Welsh health minister today highlighting that he did not want to see “crowds bunched together outside shops”. 

3.30pm Meat plant closed following coronavirus outbreak

A chicken processing plant on Anglesey has closed as 51 workers at the site have contracted coronavirus. The plant, which is part of one of the largest food producers in the UK, 2 Sisters Food Group, supplies meat to KFC, and Marks & Spencer. The company said it would temporarily suspend production at the site in Llangefni for two weeks to “clearly demonstrate how seriously we take this issue”. 

More than 200 people are said to be self-isolating following the outbreak at the plant, which employs 560 people. Paddy McNaught, regional organiser for the union Unite, said that while 2 Sisters had worked with unions to ensure a safe working environment, production line work at the plant meant adhering to the two-metre social distancing rule had been "virtually impossible". 

2.30pm Shops and some workplaces in Scotland to reopen from 29 June

Most shops in Scotland can reopen from 29 June as part of a further easing of the country's lockdown rules, the Scottish government has announced. Many indoor workplaces such as factories, laboratories and warehouses will also start to reopen from 29 June, subject to strict physical distancing and hygiene rules. The changes will also see face coverings to be made compulsory for everyone using public transport – including taxis. But no decision has yet been made on when pubs, restaurants or beer gardens will be able to reopen in Scotland.

The announcement by first minister Nicola Sturgeon means the country has now moved to the second phase of its four-phase ‘route map’ aimed at ending the lockdown while continuing to suppress the virus. The other changes include dentists being allowed to reopen for urgent care from Monday (22 June), professional sport to resume behind closed doors and places of worship to reopen for individual prayer. 

2.10pm How should employers approach redundancies over the coming months?

Many companies across a variety of sectors are struggling to survive as the third month of lockdown measures continues. With a recession looming, and the UK forecast by the OECD to suffer the biggest economic hit from coronavirus of all developed countries, it’s already apparent that many employers will simply not be able to go back to normal once the furlough scheme concludes, or even once the pandemic has subsided.

However, unprecedented times are no excuse for poor practice. And how firms conduct redundancies will be closely scrutinised over the coming months – as British Airways discovered recently after being branded a ‘national disgrace’ by the transport select committee for its approach to restructuring. As many industries face bleak times and need to consider reducing their workforces, how can they approach this correctly and fairly? People Management asked the experts for guidance on some key questions.

1.30pm Third of employees asked to work while furloughed, survey finds

Some businesses are asking furloughed workers to work, despite this being in direct contravention of the job retention scheme’s rules, research has found – with one expert calling this a “blatant abuse of the system”. A poll of 2,000 furloughed employees across the UK found 34 per cent had been asked by their employer to commit furlough fraud by carrying out their normal duties despite their employers claiming from the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme. A further 18 per cent said they had been asked to work for another company linked to their employer, and a similar number (19 per cent) were asked to cover someone else’s job within their organisation.

Beverley Sunderland, managing director at Crossland Employment Solicitors, warned that furlough fraud was a serious offence, and employers caught abusing the system could face hefty fines, be asked to pay funding back, have any future payments withheld or even potentially face prison. Asking employees to work when on furlough is a “blatant abuse of the system and puts the employee in a very difficult position”, she added. 

12.10pm What happens if employees refuse to return to work?

Mark Lello and Molly Dilling explore employers’ rights when staff are reluctant to go back to the workplace because of fears surrounding Covid-19.

12pm Why staff volunteering is more vital now than ever

While charities are facing increased demand, their funding is taking a hit. Businesses can provide the answer in a way that’s mutually beneficial, say Steve Butterworth and Chris Hillman.

11.40am Fifth of UK businesses still trading haven't applied for government support

Only 19 per cent of UK businesses still trading have not applied for help from any of the government coronavirus schemes available, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report on coronavirus and its economic impact reveals. Of the 7,245 UK businesses that responded to the ONS survey, 84 per cent reported they were continuing to trade, while 16 per cent reported they had temporarily closed or paused trading. 

The ONS found 30 per cent of the workforce for businesses that had not permanently stopped trade had been furloughed. The accommodation and food service sector and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector had the highest proportions of furloughed workers, at 80 per cent and 78 per cent respectively. Of those companies with a proportion of their workforce furloughed, 42 per cent reported providing top-ups to the government's subsidised payment to furloughed workers.

8.30am Kingfisher to recruit more than 3,000 staff

Kingfisher, owner of DIY retailer B&Q and hardware chain Screwfix, has said it would be taking on 3,000 to 4,000 workers, about half of whom would be working in the UK, after a rise in online sales because of the coronavirus outbreak. The company said online sales increased more than 200 per cent in April and May during the height of lockdown. 

Thierry Garnier, chief executive of Kingfisher, said new staff would work in those stores being used to process online orders. He said demand for DIY goods had surged while people had been stuck at home during the lockdown, but admitted trade may slow as the economic downturn hits jobs. He added: “These are temporary roles across the summer, but we will continue to watch what happens."

7.40am DPD to hire thousands amid online shopping boom

Delivery firm DPD is recruiting thousands of staff – including 3,500 drivers and 2,500 support staff, such as mechanics and parcel sorters – to help meet a surge in demand for goods bought online because of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. DPD boss Dwain McDonald described the lockdown period as the "biggest boom in online retailing" the UK had ever seen. He said: "Since this began, we have been handling parcel volumes more akin to the festive seasonal peak than this time of year."

Wednesday 17 June

3.25pm More than 400,000 creative industries jobs could be lost in 2020, report warns

As many as 406,000 jobs in the UK’s culture sector could be lost in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus crisis, a report by the Creative Industries Federation and Oxford Economics has predicted. The report predicts a “cultural catastrophe”, with creative businesses in the country set to lose £74bn this year. 

According to the research, 5 per cent of jobs in museums, libraries and public galleries could be lost, with many of the 4,000 people hit being self-employed. It also warned 178,000 jobs could be lost in the music, performance and visual arts industry. Caroline Norbury, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said without government intervention the effect on the nation would be “devastating and irreversible” and called for a “cultural renewal fund for those in the creative sector who will be hit hardest”.

2pm HSBC to continue planned job cuts

HSBC is to resume its plans to cut 35,000 jobs. In April, the bank had said it would hold fire on the redundancies, explaining that it did not want to leave staff unable to find work elsewhere during the coronavirus outbreak. However, Noel Quinn, the bank's new chief executive, told HSBC's 235,000 staff around the globe that it now would go through with the cuts.

HSBC had originally announced the plan in February as part of a restructuring programme aimed to save £3.6bn in cost cuts by 2022, but put it on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic. As it plans to go through with the restructure, HSBC said it would try to find internal jobs for those affected but that redundancies were likely.

1.50pm BBC announces voluntary redundancy scheme as part of bid to save £125m 

The BBC has announced a voluntary redundancy scheme to make £125m of savings this financial year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and changes to the licence fee. In a note to staff posted on the broadcaster’s internal network seen by Yahoo News UK, director general Lord Tony Hall said the BBC was already facing financial pressures caused by the government’s decision to stop funding licence fees for people aged over 75 before the crisis. Hall added that the coronavirus outbreak had caused additional financial pressures on the organisation. 

He said the BBC now had 24 per cent less to spend on its UK public services and said all employees in their public services branch were to be given the chance to take voluntary redundancy. He said: “We know hard choices are necessary. More than a third of our costs – across the BBC – relate to our people. That’s why we’re introducing this voluntary redundancy programme.”

1.25pm HMRC seeks powers to investigate furlough fraud

Employers that think they may have accidentally misused the furlough scheme could be given a 30-day amnesty to admit their mistake under a draft bill to tackle furlough fraud, which is currently being fast tracked through parliament.

The draft legislation will give HMRC the power to check grants made to employees through the job retention scheme, and reclaim through income tax assessments any furlough money overpaid to employers or not spent on wages as intended. Any organisation caught deliberately using furlough money for anything other than its intended purpose – so-called furlough fraud – would face a financial penalty. The legislation, which is part of the finance bill 2020, could be passed as early as July.

12.30pm Employers’ crucial role in tackling domestic violence during Covid-19

For victims of abuse, continuing to work from home is a terrifying prospect. Firms must take action to protect vulnerable staff, says Elizabeth Filkin, chair of the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse. 

12.25pm Updates to holiday entitlement and pay legislation

Verity Buckingham, senior associate at Dentons, provides new details on how businesses should handle employees’ annual leave during the coronavirus pandemic. 

10.50am Half of businesses could cut jobs after furlough scheme ends

More than half of UK businesses are considering making redundancies after the furlough scheme winds up, a survey by YouGov has found. Of the 500 employers polled, 51 per cent said they intended to make job cuts within three months of the job retention scheme’s conclusion. A fifth (21 per cent) of respondents said that a third of their workforce could be at risk, while almost a third (31 per cent) said a fifth of their staff could face job losses. Just over a third of businesses (34 per cent) predicted all their staff would be kept on following the scheme’s closure. 

10am BAME doctors more likely to have felt pressured to work without appropriate PPE

Doctors with black and other minority ethnic backgrounds are three times as likely to report having felt pressured to carry out their jobs without sufficient protective equipment, the chair of the British Medical Association has told the BBC. 

Dr Chaand Nagpaul said more than 90 per cent of doctors who had died during the pandemic had BAME backgrounds. He spoke as a report was released yesterday (16 June) highlighting the increased risk from coronavirus faced by non-white people. According to the Public Health England report, black and Asian people were less likely to seek care when they needed it or speak up if they had concerns about risk in the workplace, as a result of  "historic racism and poorer experiences of healthcare or at work". The report recommends developing “risk assessment tools that can be employed in a variety of occupational settings and used to reduce the risk of employees’ exposure to and acquisition of Covid-19”. It said these tools were especially important for BAME workers in frontline health and social care roles. 

Tuesday 16 June

4.25pm More than 250 Poundstretcher branches at risk of closure

Discount store chain Poundstretcher could close more than half its 450 shops if rent discounts or holidays cannot be agreed with landlords, the company has said. 

Poundstretcher is currently undergoing an insolvency process known as a company voluntary arrangement, under which 253 branches could cease trading, “depend[ing] on the commercial merits of each store with the relevant landlords' collaboration”, said KPMG, which is overseeing the insolvency process. Poundstretcher currently employs 5,500 people. 

2.20pm Scotland's unemployment rate highest in UK

Scotland's unemployment rate is now the highest among all the UK nations, according to figures by the Office for National Statistics. The analysis found unemployment in Scotland for people over 16 was 4.6 per cent, compared to the UK average of 3.9 per cent. The latest figures – which only capture the first five weeks of lockdown – show England's unemployment rate now stands at 3.9 per cent, Wales is at 3 per cent and Northern Ireland is at 2.3 per cent.

Jamie Hepburn, business, fair work and skills minister for Scotland, said the figures showed the "scale of the challenge facing Scotland" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. He added: "Keeping people in work while supporting those who have lost their jobs will continue to be at the heart of our thinking as we carefully reopen the economy." He also urged the UK government to ensure its support schemes reflected what was needed in Scotland.

2pm Zoos consider making more than 100 redundancies

Zoo bosses are considering making more than 100 roles redundant to ensure the future of attractions in Paignton and Newquay after the closure of a zoo in Devon was announced earlier this week. The Wild Planet Trust said on Monday (15 June) that falling visitor numbers at Living Coasts in Torquay as a result of Covid-19 meant it would not reopen as a visitor attraction. The trust said it was now having to review workings at its other two sites because, although English zoos can reopen, strict social distancing rules meant daily visitor numbers would have to be restricted.

Simon Tonge, director of the Wild Planet Trust, said "tough decisions" would need to be made, and the zoos are looking at a variety of cost-cutting measures including a freeze on all capital work, cutting back on non-essential expenditure and possible job cuts. Tonge added: "Unfortunately, as wage costs account for more than 50 per cent of operating costs, making posts redundant is something we are, regrettably, having to consider."

1.35pm Think tank calls on government to take action against Ladbrokes shares payout 

Ladbrokes Coral Group has awarded chief executive Kenny Alexander shares worth £3.3m, alongside giving chief financial officer Rob Wood shares worth £1.4m. 

Parent company GVC furloughed all of its 14,000 staff across Ladbrokes and Coral shops in March and topped up government funding to give workers a full wage. However, Yahoo Finance reported it has saved £20m a month as a result of business relief rates. 

Andrew Speke, spokesman for think tank High Pay Centre, condemned the payout on This is Money, and called on the government to take action. "Perhaps now is the time for government to make it clear that it will not tolerate such behaviour from companies using the scheme," he said. 

1pm Making flexibility work in the ‘new normal’

We’re three months into the world’s first working from home experiment, says Alice ter Haar. So how can employers harness what they’ve learned during Covid-19?

12.50pm How can businesses protect BAME employees returning to work?

With figures showing ethnic minority groups are at a greater risk of dying from coronavirus than the white population, Paida Dube explains what employers can do to safeguard staff.

11am Greggs to reopen 800 branches from Thursday

Bakery chain Greggs has announced it will reopen 800 of its stores for takeaway from Thursday, and said the remainder of its 2,050 shops will reopen from July. 

The chain recently ran a trial, with 20 shops in the Newcastle area opening back in May. To reopen safely, Greggs has said protective screens will be in place at shop counters, additional cleaning will be carried out and staff will be provided with personal protective equipment. In addition, there will be markers to ensure customers remain two metres apart. Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside said: "Looking forward, although great uncertainty remains, we are excited to be resuming our service for many customers this week”. 

10am Restaurant sector faces major job cuts, PM warned

The bosses of food chains including Pizza Hut and Wagamama have told the prime minister that without further help the sector will face mass job cuts. 

In a letter to Boris Johnson, signed by 90 businesses in the hospitality industry, which represent more than 1,000 establishments across the UK, the firms called for “swift action” to avert “grave damage” to the sector. A major problem, according to the letter organised by food delivery company Deliveroo, was the two metre distancing rule. If it is kept in place when restaurants reopen, the letter said, businesses would need extra support on tax and rents in order to manage. “Without government support to help restaurants to generate revenue and cover costs, tens of thousands of restaurants may be forced to permanently close their doors in the coming months,” it warned. 

9.45am Job vacancies see biggest quarterly drop on record

There were an estimated 342,000 fewer job vacancies in the UK between March and May this year than in the previous quarter, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. This is the biggest quarterly fall in job vacancies on record. 

The ONS also reported a relatively stable employment rate for the three months to May 2020, of 76.4 per cent. This is down just 0.1 per cent on the previous quarter. However, the number of people temporarily away from work, including furloughed workers, rose by six million at the end of March into April, while the number of hours worked in the country dropped by a record 94.2 million compared to the same time last year.  

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said the figures signalled “a major employment crisis” in the UK, and highlighted a need for “more policy interventions that are targeted at both helping young unemployed people into work and supporting individuals to upskill and reskill”.

Monday 15 June

5.25pm Employers should protect ‘as many jobs as possible’

Dominic Raab has said it is incumbent on employers to protect as many jobs as possible during the coronavirus crisis, to support families and help the UK’s economic recovery. Speaking during today’s daily government briefing, the foreign secretary stopped short of condemning the actions of airline British Airways, described by a recent transport committee report as a “national disgrace” for its decision to cut 12,000 jobs and change the contract terms of a further 35,000 employees during the pandemic. Raab said it was up to businesses to decide how they should “navigate this difficult time”. 

4pm Ikea set to pay back furlough subsidies to world governments

Swedish furniture chain Ikea has said it plans to repay governments around the world for employee wage subsidies paid through furlough schemes, including in the US and Ireland. Ikea furloughed 10,000 workers in the UK, but did not claim their wages back through the job retention scheme. However, other firms such as Games Workshop and The Spectator magazine, which did make use of the UK scheme, have said they will repay the government for the wages claimed. 

2pm Travis Perkins to cut 2,500 jobs

The UK's biggest builders' merchant, Travis Perkins, has announced plans to cut about 2,500 jobs. The group said it expected a UK recession to hit demand for building materials this year and in 2021. As a result, Travis Perkins said it had started a consultation process with staff about 165 branch closures, which will affect about 8 per cent of its network. 

The firm said it would mainly be closing smaller branches of its Travis Perkins General Merchant brand. Nick Roberts, chief executive of Travis Perkins, said: "While we have experienced improving trends more recently, we do not expect a return to pre-Covid trading conditions for some time and consequently we have had to take the very difficult decision to begin consultations on the closure of selected branches."

12.40pm Review into two metre rule launched

Yesterday (14 June) the prime minister launched a review into the economic impact of the two metre social distancing rule, currently in force in all public places. Some businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, have expressed concern about the prospect of reopening with the rule in place, as it makes it difficult for them to be economically viable with fewer customers able to come into their establishments. Pubs and restaurants are currently set to be allowed to open from 4 July. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it was time for a “fresh look” at the social distancing guidance, and that “everyone would like to see it reduce from an economic perspective”. However, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies is understood to hold the position that the number of known coronavirus cases in the UK is still too high to safely change the distancing rules.

11.20am BAE systems to hire 800 apprentices despite Covid-19

Defence company BAE systems has said it intends to continue with its plans to recruit 800 new apprentices, despite the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on the economy. The firm said it received 9,000 applications in February and plans to use virtual interviews to select from the shortlisted candidates.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive, said the company was playing its part to support the government’s aim of getting young people back into work. “The contribution apprentices make to our business is vital in maintaining our ability to continue to deliver cutting-edge technologies that protect national security,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to adapt our application and training processes to allow education to continue, while protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees and new recruits.”

10.30am Male bankers escape coronavirus pay cuts

Men working in the financial services sector, including insurance and banking, are the only group of workers to have avoided coronavirus-related pay cuts, The Sunday Times has reported.

Research conducted by the New Economics Foundation for the paper found this group’s average weekly earnings remained flat between February, before the lockdown, and April. By contrast, women in the sector saw their pay drop by 5 per cent over the same period.

The report said other sectors had been hit much harder than banking and finance, with accommodation and food services suffering the most.

10am National airliner criticised by MPs for treatment of staff during outbreak

A parliamentary committee has branded the treatment of staff by British Airways (BA) as a “national disgrace”, accusing the firm of using the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to make redundancies and change the terms and conditions for its employees. In a report, the Transport Committee acknowledged the aviation industry had been one of the sectors worst hit by the virus – noting in particular the damage that the new 14-day quarantine policy was likely to have.

“The impact of coronavirus may sadly mean that the loss of some jobs in the aviation sector is justified,” said Huw Merriman, Conservative MP and chair of the committee. But, he said, the behaviour of BA and its parent company, IAG, “falls well below the standards expected from any employer, especially in light of the scale of taxpayer subsidy, at this time of national crisis. It is unacceptable that a company would seek to drive this level of change under the cover of a pandemic.” 

BA has furloughed around 22,000 staff at a cost of £35m to the government, the committee said, but is still planning to make some 12,000 redundancies and introduce less favourable terms and conditions for the remaining 35,000 employees. Other companies in the sector, including Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Ryanair, Rolls-Royce and Airbus, have also announced large-scale redundancies.

BA told the BBC it was doing all it could to keep the maximum number of jobs.

8.15am One million miss out on support schemes, MPs say

More than one million people have fallen through cracks in government schemes designed to support them during the coronavirus crisis, MPs have said. The Treasury select committee said more than a million people are suffering financial hardship as a result of unfortunate timing in starting a new job or their employer's choice of timing in submitting payroll paperwork to HMRC. The government launched the job retention scheme to subsidise the salaries of workers unable to do their job from home, but those who started a new job after the scheme's 28 February cut-off date are not covered by the scheme. Although this was later extended by three weeks, the committee said many had still been left behind.

The Treasury said the schemes protected millions of jobs and livelihoods, but the committee's interim report, which was unanimously agreed by members, said it was still not enough. The committee said: "The Treasury's interventions have been welcomed by many but rolling out financial support at pace and scale has inevitably resulted in some hard edges in policy design and some critical gaps in provision." 

7.45am Non-essential shops reopen after three months

Shops in England selling non-essential goods can reopen today for the first time in almost three months. Prime minister Boris Johnson has urged people to "shop with confidence". He said he was "very optimistic" about stores reopening – although acknowledged that retailers did not know whether there would be a "huge wave of customers" or a "trickle".

Although food shops, pharmacies, banks and other essential retailers have stayed open, the vast majority of high street shops have been closed since 23 March. These retailers have been required to introduce plastic screens at tills and floor markings to keep shoppers two metres apart – measures already a regular fixture in supermarkets. Other measures include pleas not to touch items unless customers intend to purchase them, decontaminating shopping baskets after each use, the closing of changing rooms in clothing stores and sanitiser on hand for customers.  

7.30am All foreign NHS staff 'should get free visa extension', say MPs

Free visa extensions should be given to all non-British NHS and social care workers who have been essential in working on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic, a group of MPs has said. A cross-party Commons Home Affairs Committee said it was "unfair" that some of the lowest-paid workers faced charges of thousands of pounds to stay in the country. The government has given a one-year free visa extension for some staff in the NHS and care sectors, which was initially limited to NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics, but in April it was extended to include more NHS staff, such as radiographers and social workers, plus some social care staff.

MPs have now called for all staff – including care workers, porters and cleaners – in the sector to be covered by the visa extension scheme. Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the committee, said the NHS and social care sector had relied on these workers, who are predominantly immigrants, to help during the coronavirus crisis. She said: "Excluding the care workers who hold dying residents' hands, the cleaners who scrub the door handles and floors of the Covid wards or the porters who take patients to intensive care is just wrong."

Friday 12 June

5.25pm Do ‘everything in your power’ to stop people going to work, government tells employers

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has told employers to do “everything in your power” to stop people going into work as the coronavirus crisis continues. 

As the government begins to ease certain lockdown measures and non-essential businesses begin to reopen, Shapps reiterated that people should continue to work from home where possible, and employers should be making the utmost effort to facilitate this. At the daily government coronavirus briefing, he added that transport presents a challenge when it comes to keeping Covid-19 infections down, but said a “gentle approach” would be taken at first when enforcing the wearing of face masks on public transport, which will be a requirement for all passengers from Monday. 

2.35pm Now is the time for L&D to go virtual

The coronavirus pandemic has forced employers to assess what skills they need and how learning is delivered, says Patricia McEvoy, talent development director for UK and Ireland at EY. 

2.30pm How has Covid-19 affected employee benefits?

In light of recent HMRC guidance, Graham Muir and Andrew Quayle, employee incentives advisers at CMS, explain how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted tax-favoured employee share plans

12.05pm Frontline workers to be screened regularly for coronavirus

Workers at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 are to be tested regularly for the virus to slow its spread, Baroness Dido Harding, executive chair of NHS Test and Trace, has confirmed. Routine testing of people in professions that involve a lot of contact with the public are being planned within weeks, Harding said at yesterday’s government briefing. “NHS Test and Trace needs to get better at targeting our testing in communities and professions where there are likely to be more people who have the disease but aren’t showing symptoms,” she said.

11.35am Uber makes face coverings mandatory in UK

The ride-hailing company Uber has announced that drivers and passengers in the UK will have to wear face coverings while using the service from Monday. Jamie Heywood, the company’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, said that as cities begin to reopen and more people are allowed to make trips, the organisation was “taking measures to help everyone stay safe and healthy every time they use Uber”.

The company also said measures had been taken to make sure all drivers working for Uber had access to necessary PPE for free.

10.15am Airlines mount legal challenge against travel quarantine rule

Airlines British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet have filed a legal challenge against the government’s policy requiring anyone entering the UK from abroad to quarantine for 14 days. They have applied for a judicial review, asking the High Court to review the government’s rule, claiming that quarantine rules placed on travellers are more strict than those for people actually suffering from Covid-19.

They also claim the policy is not based on science, and argue there was no consultation period before implementation. The airlines said the quarantine policy would have "a devastating effect” on UK tourism and the economy, and would “destroy thousands of jobs". BA said in April that it planned to cut 12,000 of its 42,000-strong workforce, while Ryanair is making 3,000 workers redundant and Easyjet is cutting around 30 per cent of staff.

9.40am Non-essential shops reopen in Northern Ireland

All non-essential retailers can open as of today in Northern Ireland as lockdown measures have been partially lifted by the executive. The move to reopen came after retailers put pressure on Stormont ministers to allow more shops to open, as all high street shops began trading from Monday 8 June. Retailers also raised concerns that they would be at a financial disadvantage against competitors across the border. Speaking on Good Morning Britain, first minister Arlene Foster said: "We think that now is the right time to open all of retail and to allow people to come together outside in groups of 10.

9am Airbus warns UK jobs at higher risk than those in France and Germany

Airbus has warned its UK employees face “more permanent” job cuts than counterparts in France or Germany, which are both planning to maintain wage subsidy schemes for up to two years to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus. Guillaume Faury, chief executive of Airbus, was speaking to the Financial Times just days after France unveiled a €15bn package to support its aerospace industry and as the group prepared a wide-ranging restructuring to adapt to a collapse in demand from airline customers. He called on the UK to “recommit” to the future of its aerospace industry with a package of support measures and said he “regretted” the UK’s decision to set an October deadline to end the furlough scheme. In April, Airbus cut production by roughly a third, prompting a chain reaction of job losses at suppliers. 

8.30am HMRC figures show which sectors and areas are using furlough most 

The HMRC has produced a breakdown of precisely where and which employers are using the job retention scheme most. Shops and their suppliers are the biggest users of the scheme, claiming £3.3bn of £17.5bn total to furlough 1.6 million workers. Then it's hotels and restaurants, claiming £2.6bn to park a further 1.4 million workers, followed by manufacturers whose factories have been shut claiming £2.1bn for 831,000 workers.

Two million jobs in London and the South East, and 628,000 in Scotland, have been funded by the scheme. In terms of percentage of jobs furloughed per constituency, nearly half of jobs in Brent Central in North West London - 45.4 per cent - were found to be furloughed. Feltham and Crowley, close to Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, were also in the top 10 of highest percentage of jobs furloughed – as were Glasgow East, Blackpool South and Westmorland and Lonsdale in Cumbria.

Thursday 11 June

4.25pm Heathrow announces further job cuts following 97 per cent drop in passenger numbers

Heathrow Airport will be making further job cuts, the company has said, after demand for air travel hit an all-time low in May. Passenger numbers fell by 97 per cent in May, compared with the same period last year. Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said the company’s efforts to protect frontline roles were “no longer sustainable”. He announced the launch of a voluntary severance scheme among the airport’s staff, adding that further job cuts could not be ruled out. Jobs affected by the decision will include security staff, baggage trolley operatives as well as engineering and maintenance staff.

4.15pm Under 30s suffer hardest financial hit from coronavirus

Younger workers have seen their finances hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis, analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown. Those under the age of 30 are more likely than the rest of the workforce to have lost their jobs or seen their income drop throughout the pandemic. Additionally, they also are less likely to have significant savings, and spend a larger proportion of their income than other age groups. 

1.15pm Notice pay for employees on furlough

Rachel Kendall, employment team associate at Kemp Little, explains how businesses should navigate remunerating redundant staff who are already on the job retention scheme. 

12.30pm Quarter of 1.2 million-strong Welsh workforce furloughed

A total of 316,500 employees in Wales have been placed on furlough since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury figures show. This equates to just over a quarter of Wales' 1.2 million-strong workforce. The government figures suggest Conwy, Pembrokeshire and Powys could have higher proportions of workers on furlough – around 30 per cent – because of the importance of the tourism and hospitality sectors in those areas.

Approximately 21 per cent of Cardiff's workforce (about 36,000 workers) have been furloughed, while 23,000 (24 per cent) people in Swansea have been placed on the scheme. The news comes as the government revealed some 8.9 million workers across the UK have been furloughed. 

12.20pm More than 20,000 jobs to be lost at Lufthansa

German airline Lufthansa has announced plans to cut 22,000 jobs as it struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the travel industry. Last month, the company avoided collapse by agreeing a €9bn rescue deal with the German government in exchange for which the government would take a 20 per cent stake in the firm. 

However, Lufthansa nonetheless predicted the return of demand for flights to be slow, and has said half its jobs in Germany would have to be cut. The airline employs more than 135,000 people worldwide, and about half of those are in Germany. "The aim is to pave the way for the preservation of as many jobs as possible in the Lufthansa Group," the company said.

12.10pm Bombardier cuts 400 jobs in Northern Ireland

Bombardier Aerospace is cutting 400 jobs at its Northern Ireland operations. The losses are part of a restructuring plan that will see 2,500 jobs cut across the Canadian firm's global operations. Bombardier employs about 3,600 staff across several facilities in greater Belfast.

It said the move was in response to "extraordinary industry interruptions and challenges" caused by the coronavirus pandemic, adding: "We deeply regret the impact this will have on our workforce and their families, but it is crucial that we resize our business in line with market realities in these unprecedented circumstances." 

9.50am Easing of two metre social distancing rule ‘priority’ for economy, say MPs

Backbench ministers are increasing pressure on the government to ease the two metre social distancing rule, claiming it is an essential part of restarting the economy. MPs including former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith claim reducing the distance required between people in public to one metre, in line with countries such as France and Singapore, is key to getting the economy moving and to businesses recovering from the crisis. Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail that the easing of the two metre rule was the “single most important priority to unlock the economy”, adding that “the hospitality sector simply can't make a living at two metres". At the government’s daily briefing last night, prime minister Boris Johnson said the two metre rule was being kept in place, but that the government would be keeping the practice under review. 

9.20am British Gas owner Centrica to cut 5,000 jobs

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, is to take out 5,000 jobs as it looks to cut costs by simplifying its business structure. The company is removing three layers of management, with more than half of the job losses falling on leadership roles, and the restructuring is expected to take place in the second half of 2020. Centrica also said it intends to simplify its employee terms and conditions, as it has up to 80 different employee contracts.

Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica, said he regretted the decision, but said the company’s “complex business model hinders the delivery of our strategy”, adding the coronavirus pandemic had negatively impacted the already struggling business. Centrica’s announcement adds to the mounting toll of coronavirus job cuts, including 9,000 redundancies at engineering firm Rolls-Royce, and the loss of 10,000 roles at BP.

8am A quarter of Dennis Publishing staff facing redundancy

Dennis Publishing – the owner of dozens of magazines including The Week, Viz and Minecraft World – has put a quarter of its UK staff into a redundancy consultation process, according to reports by the Guardian. The company has begun a consultation process with 122 of its approximately 480 staff, and it is understood to be seeking to cut about half of the roles involved in the consultation. 

A spokesperson for Dennis Publishing UK said the coronavirus crisis has had a significant impact on the publishing sector and, as a result, the company will begin a redundancy consultation. The spokesperson added: "Although we are confident that Dennis has a bright future, we have not been immune to its economic impact. We have worked hard to reduce our costs and found savings in several areas; however, the outlook for our advertising, events and retail businesses, which accounts for approximately a third of the group’s revenues, has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic.”

Last month, Bauer Media, one of the UK’s biggest magazine publishers, said that it was considering closing, selling, merging or shutting the print edition of 10 titles because of the pandemic. Chris Duncan, CEO of UK publishing at Bauer Media, said a number of the 100 titles it publishes “are not expected to be sustainable after the crisis”.

7.30am Firms can't cope with no-deal Brexit and Covid-19, says CBI boss

British firms do not have the resilience to cope with a no-deal Brexit after the battering of the coronavirus crisis, according to the boss of the CBI. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the outgoing director general of the CBI, told the BBC that a CBI member had likened a no-deal to "setting the shed on fire" while the house was in flames. Though there are reports of the pandemic putting an added strain on trade talks, the government said it was continuing negotiations and wants to reach an agreement with the EU this year. 

Fairbairn said any buffers to cope with the additional cost and planning of an exit from the EU without a deal had been exhausted by the Covid crisis, and the resilience of British business was "absolutely on the floor". She added: "The firms that I speak to have not a spare moment to plan for a no trade deal Brexit at the end of the year – that is the common sense voice that needs to find its way into these negotiations."

Wednesday 10 June

4.45pm Business leaders to be on ‘front line’ in the next phase of coronavirus crisis, experts suggest

As the coronavirus crisis continues, business leaders will find themselves working on the frontline, the former chairman of John Lewis Partnership has said. Charlie Mayfield told CIPD Festival of Work attendees that as the country braces for the full economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the spotlight will be on business leaders to see how they manage their organisations through. Mayfield warned that “there will be heroes and there will be villains”. 

In the discussion chaired by CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese, which focussed on good work in practice in the post-pandemic world, panellists suggested the crisis could afford UK companies the opportunity to bring about big changes in ways of working, to benefit employees and society. Dame Helena Morrissey, financier and founder of The 30% Club, said it was time for a “quantum leap” in how businesses are governed, and Phoenix Group CEO Andy Briggs said the speed at which companies had adapted to new ways of working that wouldn’t previously been considered possible should make leaders more ambitious to adopt radical change. “Why do we talk about becoming greenhouse gas emission neutral by 2030?” he asked. “Covid has shown we can make big changes quickly”. 

4.40pm Covid-19 cases among prison staff continues to rise, official figures show

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 among prison workers in England and Wales continues to rise, according to Ministry of Justice figures. As of Tuesday evening, 956 staff across 105 prisons – a rise of 0.5 per cent in 24 hours – had tested positive for Covid-19.

At least nine staff members, one prison escort driver and one NHS trust employee working in a secure training centre, as well as 23 prisoners, are known to have died from the virus across the 117 prisons in England and Wales.

4.30pm Scottish tourism sector could reopen on 15 July

Scotland's tourism businesses have been told to prepare to reopen on 15 July. Scottish tourism secretary Fergus Ewing said businesses in the sector should prepare to reopen next month, but he warned "absolutely nothing can be guaranteed" as this date may change if the evidence on Covid-19 requires it. The announcement was welcomed by the Scottish Tourism Alliance, which said the move was a “hugely positive milestone in our road to recovery". 

Ewing told MSPs the pandemic had left the industry facing unprecedented challenges and a new taskforce was needed to focus on the sector's recovery needs, actions being taken by the UK government and the development of a new domestic visitor marketing campaign. He said: "The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges across the entirety of the Scottish economy, but it is very clear there are exceptional circumstances facing this sector that must be recognised." 

4.15pm Government not ruling out retired teachers returning to help schools cope

Downing Street would not rule out the possibility of retired teachers being called back to the workforce to help schools cope with the coronavirus crisis. A government spokesman told The Guardian it will “do whatever we can to make sure that no child falls behind as a result of coronavirus", which could include calling on retired teachers to return to the profession. The spokesman added the government is working to "bring all children back in September" and are considering what additional support pupils will need. 

3.50pm A fifth of care workers in Scotland have been tested for Covid-19

A fifth of Scotland's care home staff have been tested for coronavirus since the Scottish government promised to offer them all routine testing. The Scottish government announced on 28 May that all 50,000 care home workers would be offered weekly tests. Speaking at first minister's questions today, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed only 11,000 staff had been tested so far, as well as 15,000 of the country's 35,000 care home residents.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said the figures showed that "tens of thousands are still going into work with vulnerable people with no idea whether or not they're carrying the disease". He said it was "pathetic" that so few tests had been carried out and called on Sturgeon to "get a grip" on the situation. 

3.30pm Prime minister promises regular testing for 'high contact' professions

Workers in close contact with the public will get regular coronavirus tests even if they are not showing symptoms, Boris Johnson has said. Speaking during prime minister's questions today, Johnson said the move would help mitigate higher risks faced by black and minority ethnic workers in "front line" transport and health roles. He told MPs that "high-contact professions" would now get expanded and targeted testing, but he did not give any further details on which roles or professions would be included in this. 

The announcement followed criticism from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who referenced a Public Health England report, saying: "That report concluded that death rates are highest among black and Asian ethnic groups and it went on to say, and this was the important bit, that it is already clear that relevant guidance and key policies should be adapted to mitigate the risk, already clear. If it is already clear that guidance and policy need to be changed, why has the government not already acted?" The government said it was "already acting" to find out why risks were higher for certain groups, including whether housing density or profession played a role, and how to mitigate coronavirus risks for black and minority ethnic groups.

1.40pm Working hard not the same as increasing productivity, top economist warns

Working harder during a time of crisis is not the same as improving productivity, delegates at the CIPD’s Festival of Work have been told. Andrew Scott, professor of economics at London Business School, said it was understandable that at a time of uncertainty, like the current coronavirus outbreak, businesses would tend to focus on working harder at their current processes. But, he added: “Do not confuse working hard with being productive.”

When facing a crisis such as coronavirus, Scott urged businesses to consider their overall mission and be flexible with how they achieve that: “Don’t try and get back to your plan. [Instead] think what is our ultimate purpose and mission? [That is what] delivered the plan that you’re scrapping. Reconfigure your plan to deliver your mission.”

12.50pm Brighton & Hove City Council to furlough workers

Brighton & Hove City Council is set to furlough "hundreds" of staff while the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to reports by the GMB Union. The union said the workers who are proposed to be placed on the government's job retention scheme include after-school and nursery workers, Royal Pavilion staff and staff at the Brighton Centre.

Council leader Nancy Platts said the move was a result of the “significant financial impacts” the council was facing. She said: “We have been working closely with our trade union colleagues on how we might use the furlough scheme for some council staff whose roles are funded by income and where we have had to temporarily close services." The move comes after more councils – including Oxford City Council, Reading Borough Council and Dundee City Council – announced they were furloughing staff even though the government did not originally predict the public sector would need to use the scheme. 

12.10pm How should HR support managers on staff wellbeing as the Covid crisis continues?

As the full impact of coronavirus is felt across the UK’s workforce, middle management has been the first port of call for many workers seeking answers. When lockdown scattered well-established teams to a new virtual way of working, most employees no doubt turned to their line managers for support first.

In turn, managers have dealt with an onslaught of changes and challenges to the way they manage and support their teams. And this is a level of support that will need to continue in a post-lockdown world as staff gradually return to places of work. People Management talks to experts on how the people profession can help line managers support staff wellbeing throughout the coronavirus crisis. 

11.50am Businesses should be wary of abusing the job retention scheme

The number of cases of furlough fraud could be the tip of the iceberg, with redundant employees more willing to report their employer, explains Alison Loveday.

11.30am Monsoon Accessorize and Quiz announce job cuts

Fashion group Monsoon Accessorize has today announced 545 job losses and the closure of 35 shops, saying its current structure was "unviable" following the lockdown. It will now attempt to renegotiate the terms of its remaining 162 shops with its landlords, and aims to safeguard up to 2,300 jobs. 

Meanwhile, chain Quiz said it would place its stores into administration, potentially putting jobs at risk. The retailer said it would put its 82 outlets in the UK and Ireland into administration before buying them back so it could negotiate better rental terms with its landlords. It explained that some 822 employees out of a total of 915 would transfer to the new company. 

11am Coronavirus leaves one in 10 UK charities facing bankruptcy this year

One in 10 UK charities are facing bankruptcy by the end of the year as they struggle to cope with a £10bn shortfall caused by soaring demand for their services and lost fundraising income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a study shows. The analysis by independent charity Pro Bono Economics found the pandemic would trigger a £6.4bn loss of income for third sector businesses over the next six months, just as demand for extra services adds costs of £3.7bn.

The study also found nine in 10 (88 per cent) charities anticipated Covid-19 would reduce their income over the coming six months compared with pre-crisis plans, and more than half (59 per cent) would ‘significantly’ reduce their activity. Additionally, two-thirds of charities said they were unable to furlough staff because this would mean having to stop providing services. 

10.40am UK economy likely to be hit hardest by Covid-19, OECD says

Britain’s is likely to be one of the economies worst hit by the coronavirus crisis, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The think tank said the drop in the UK’s national income following months of lockdown was likely to outstrip that of those in other European countries including Italy, France, Spain and Germany. 

The UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to suffer a drop of 11.5 per cent this year, the OECD said, compared to 11.4 per cent in France, 11.3 per cent in Italy, 11.1 per cent in Spain and just 6.6 per cent in Germany. Other countries badly hit by the virus, such as the US and Brazil, were also predicted to see smaller economic hits than the UK, with the US’s GDP forecast to shrink by 7.3 per cent and Brazil’s by 7.4 per cent. 

10.10am Parents who return to work after cut off will receive furlough

Parents who return to work following extended leave after the June cut-off date for furlough payments will still be eligible for them, the government has said. The Treasury has said those on statutory maternity and paternity leave who return to work in the next few months will be eligible for the furlough scheme after today (10 June). Today is the deadline for employers to place new staff on furlough. The scheme will be closed to new businesses claiming subsidies through it from 30 June.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, when he announced changes to the furlough scheme last month, it was "clear we wanted to do this in a fair way" that supported people back to work. He said: "But for parents returning from leave, their circumstances have meant that they are still in need of support, and I’m pleased that they will be able to receive the financial assistance they and their family will need." Further details of the change are set to be published on 12 June.

10am Airline job losses could be on scale of 1980s mining industry, report warns

The grounding of air travel during the coronavirus pandemic could prompt a jobs crisis in British aviation on the scale of the coal mining industry’s collapse during the 1980s, a study has warned. The report by the New Economics Foundation found at least 70,000 jobs in the wider aviation industry – including engineering, catering and duty free shopping – are at risk of being cut before the end of summer. Because of the pandemic, it said thousands of workers in the industry will have to retrain in other areas of the economy.

The study – which was compiled in collaboration with the TUC, aviation unions and climate action charity Possible – warned this figure would match the job losses in the coal industry in 1980-81 in the early years of Margaret Thatcher’s newly elected Tory government. The warning comes as airlines have already been among the biggest beneficiaries of government support, with British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet placing more than 25,000 staff on furlough and borrowing £1.5bn using government-backed loans.

9.40am Up to 3,000 UK restaurant jobs at risk as chain closes stores

The Restaurant Group, which owns food chains including Frankie and Benny’s, has confirmed plans to close 125 of its branches, costing up to 3,000 jobs. 

It said most of these closures would hit Frankie and Benny’s restaurants, but its other chains, such as Garfunkel’s and Chiquito, would also be affected. On top of the 125 closures, the company said it would also be seeking to renegotiate rents and terms on a further 85 outlets. 

9am Local lockdowns will require local furlough schemes, say mayors

Local furlough schemes must be put in place to compensate workers and businesses in the event of any local lockdowns, regional politicians and business leaders have said. Last month, health secretary Matt Hancock announced that the UK would have "local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups” of coronavirus. But the government has yet to issue any detailed guidance, prompting local authorities and politicians to question what such lockdowns would look like and how they would be enforced. 

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, the mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool city region respectively, called on the government in a joint statement to introduce a local furlough scheme for people whose workplaces were closed down or who were unable to get to work. They said local authorities must be provided with sufficient funding to provide food and humanitarian assistance to the community for the duration of the lockdown. And Ben Houchen, Conservative mayor of Tees Valley, said he could only support “micro lockdowns” to respond to an outbreak in a school, business or institutional setting, for instance. 

8.30am Young people 'face trap of world without work', says research

The economic damage of the coronavirus crisis will hit young workers hardest, essentially leaving them to "face the trap of a world without work", an Ulster University study has suggested. The research estimated that youth unemployment in Northern Ireland (among those aged 16-24) could jump from 8 per cent to 26 per cent in 2020. That compares to an estimated unemployment rate of about 10 per cent for workers aged 25-49 this year.

The study also showed that young people were disproportionately employed in hospitality – with this age group accounting for 36 per cent of hospitality employees in Northern Ireland – which was likely to be the last sector to emerge from lockdown. It also estimated that 45 per cent of under-25s had been furloughed or laid off since the start of the crisis, compared to 25 per cent to 30 per cent for older age groups.

8.20am Zoos and safari parks could reopen from 15 June

Zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas are set to reopen in England from Monday (15 June), the prime minister is due to announce later today. According to the BBC, Boris Johnson is expected to outline the latest step in easing lockdown during today's daily briefing, and it is thought he will state that outdoor attractions can reopen as long as they follow social distancing rules. Some zoos, including Chester Zoo and London Zoo, have reported financial struggles because of a lack of visitors and a subsequent drop in ticket sales caused by lockdown restrictions.

The move will pave the way for zoos and other attractions to reopen in England alongside non-essential shops, which can also open from 15 June. Yesterday, business secretary Alok Sharma announced that retailers could open as long as they follow safety guidelines, but he said pubs, bars, restaurants and hairdressers would not be able to reopen until 4 July "at the earliest". 

8am Aviation parts manufacturer in Scotland to cut workforce

A Scottish company that makes parts for the aviation sector, including engine maker Rolls-Royce, is to cut its workforce, unions have said. Unite Scotland said 72 of the 187 staff at the Wyman-Gordon plant in Livingston had been issued with redundancy notices. The union said the firm was blaming the job cuts on a substantial drop in orders as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Graeme Turnbull, Unite regional officer, said: "We understand the challenges facing the sector, but the company should continue using the job retention scheme while specific sector support packages are brought forward. More clearly needs to be done by the UK and Scottish governments to stabilise those sectors that have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic."

Tuesday 9 June

5.35pm Non-essential shops can reopen from 15 June

Business secretary Alok Sharma has confirmed non-essential retail outlets will be able to open for business again from 15 June, provided they comply with health and safety guidelines in relation to coronavirus. 

At today’s government briefing, Sharma said parts of the economy would be able to reopen in a “phased manner”, adding that the two-metre social distancing rule is still in place, but will be kept under review. 

4.30pm Debenhams to close more UK shops, cutting 300 jobs

High street retailer Debenhams has announced that three more of its shops will not reopen after lockdown, meaning 300 more jobs will be lost at the business. The company said it had failed to agree new rental terms for the stores in Milton Keynes, Watford and Gateshead with landlord Intu. This brings the number of Debenhams branches to be closed permanently after the coronavirus crisis to 20. 

Debenhams has been undergoing a restructure after it went into administration for the second time in a year in April, as the economic effect of lockdown measures took hold. It is thought more than 4,000 jobs will be lost as a result of the restructure, from both closed branches and head office. 

2.25pm Coronavirus and whistleblowing

During Covid-19 employers should ensure they are better prepared to deal with complaints, as employment partner at Dentons Michelle Lamb explains in light of relevant case law.  

2.20pm The importance of mentoring through a crisis

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to put a strain on wellbeing, Sonika Sharma, global strategy and communications manager at Unilever, explains how the firm has benefited from mentorship

2.15pm Two-thirds of working households suffer coronavirus pay cuts, survey reveals

Nearly two-thirds of UK employees have taken, or seen a member of their household take, a salary cut during the pandemic, a new survey has shown, with this affecting the wellbeing of many. 

Consultancy Barnett Waddingham polled more than 2,000 full and part-time employees and found 61 per cent reported that someone in their household had seen their wages cut. Of these workers, almost four-fifths (79 per cent) said it had affected their mental wellbeing. Among staff who had seen a fall in household earnings, 40 per cent said they had experienced increased anxiety as a result, while 39 per cent reported higher stress levels. More than a quarter (28 per cent) reported sleepless nights and a fifth (20 per cent) said they had experienced mood swings. 

2.10pm Half of working mums say childcare during Covid-19 has damaged their career, poll finds

More than half of working mums believe increased childcare responsibilities during the coronavirus crisis have negatively affected their career prospects or will harm them in future, according to a survey. 

Charity and campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed polled almost 3,700 pregnant women and mothers to understand the impact of Covid-19, and almost three months of lockdown, on their careers. More than three-quarters (78 per cent) found it challenging to manage childcare and paid work during lockdown. As a result, 57 per cent thought increased childcare responsibilities had negatively affected their career prospects, or would harm them in future. 

11.10am UK furlough scheme now covers 8.9 million workers

Some 8.9 million workers are now covered by the government's furlough scheme – an increase of 200,000 from last week – the Treasury has announced. Claims filed by employers have now reached £19.6bn, up from £17.5bn the previous week. This is a crucial week for businesses, with the deadline for employers to place new staff on furlough tomorrow (10 June). The scheme will be closed to new businesses claiming subsidies through it from 30 June.

The Treasury data also showed a similar scheme for self-employed workers, known as the self-employed income support scheme, had seen 2.6 million claims made, worth approximately £7.5bn. 

11am UK jobs outlook gloomiest in nearly 30 years amid pandemic, finds survey

The outlook for jobs is the worst it’s been in almost three decades, according to an employment survey by recruitment firm ManpowerGroup. It found companies in all large sectors of the economy were more likely to cut jobs than hire people from July to September – the weakest forecast since records began in 1992.

The survey of 1,056 employers across the UK found 57 per cent expected to return to normal hiring levels by this time next year. Mark Cahill, managing director of ManpowerGroup UK, said the data underlined the resilience of employers, but warned there were still "challenges that lie ahead". He added that "around three-quarters" of employers surveyed expected to retain current staffing levels in the coming quarter.

10.40am Unions ‘pleased’ as government scraps plan for primary school return 

The government has dropped its plan for primary schools in England to return to the classroom before the end of term. The initial plan – which had been heavily criticised by the headteacher’s union – is thought to be no longer feasible. 

Geoff Barton, leader of headteachers' union the Association of School and College Leaders, said the government was “over-promising something that wasn’t deliverable” and added that it wasn’t possible “while maintaining small class sizes”. Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said the government’s original plan was “ill-considered, premature and unworkable”. Education secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to deliver a statement to the House of Commons on the reopening of schools later today. 

10.30am Small shops in Northern Ireland can reopen from Friday

All non-essential retailers can reopen in Northern Ireland from Friday (12 June), Stormont's economy minister, Diane Dodds, has said. Large retailers and shops in retail parks reopened today, and all high street shops in the Republic of Ireland resumed business on Monday (8 June). Dodds said the Northern Ireland Executive will discuss when shopping centres can reopen later this week.

Dodds described the announcement as a "major step forward" for the economy, and said it was time to accelerate the pace of recovery. She added: "It was agreed that as long as retailers can adhere to the necessary safety measures, and there is no increase in the spread of the virus by Thursday, then these shops can reopen." Ministers are due to hold a special meeting on Thursday to assess long-term strategies for helping Northern Ireland return to normality. 

Monday 8 June

5.15pm Quarter of Mulberry employees set to lose jobs

Predominantly UK-based fashion brand Mulberry could cut 25 per cent of its 1,400-strong workforce, according to a company statement. In an announcement revealing that the firm plans to begin reopening stores from 15 June, the organisation also said its revenue had been severely affected by the coronavirus crisis. “Even once stores reopen, social distancing measures, reduced tourist and footfall levels will continue to impact our revenue. As a result of this, we must manage our operations and cost base accordingly to ensure the company is the correct size and structure to reflect market conditions,” the statement said. A consultation period of 45 days has now begun on the potential job losses. 

5.10pm BP to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide 

BP has announced it will cut 10,000 jobs as oil prices “plunged” below profit lines because of the coronavirus. Having formerly paused redundancies in April during the peak of the crisis, the oil and gas company revealed to employees that it would reduce its workforce by around 15 per cent by the end of the year. 

BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, told staff in an email: "The oil price has plunged well below the level we need to turn a profit.” BP has not confirmed the number of UK employees set to leave, but the BBC reported that it could be “close to 2,000”. 

1.05pm Three in five working carers use annual leave to juggle jobs with care, poll finds

Three in five (60 per cent) working carers had to use their annual leave last year to look after an ill, elderly or disabled family member, partner or friend, research has found

A poll by savings and retirement firm Phoenix found carers used on average six days of their holiday entitlement to help them juggle work and caring responsibilities, prompting calls from the company for the government to roll out extra statutory leave for carers as soon as possible. “With an ageing society, more and more people will have caring responsibilities, and if they're not already providing support, employers really do need to be going forward,” said Claire McCartney, senior policy adviser at the CIPD.

12.10pm Many firms slow to adopt virtual learning, report finds

The number of organisations still reliant on classroom-based learning is relatively high, a survey has found, raising concerns about the accessibility of L&D in lockdown. The CIPD and Accenture’s Learning and skills at work 2020 report surveyed more than 1,200 employers in February 2020, and found that one in five organisations (21 per cent) did not use any technology to support learning activities, with many continuing to rely on classroom-based training. It also revealed that only one in three (29 per cent) businesses claimed to have clear L&D plans for employees.

The report suggested that “barriers” to virtual learning experiences still persisted, and called on organisations to harness digital learning to ensure skills development issues were not exacerbated by Covid-19. It found the top three barriers to the delivery of learning were a lack of learning time (41 per cent), limited budgets (40 per cent) and lack of management time or support (29 per cent). 

11.10am More than seven million people have suffered 'lockdown loneliness', says ONS

More than seven million Brits have suffered from ‘lockdown loneliness’, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Its report found that in the first month of the lockdown, 7.4 million people reported their wellbeing being affected by loneliness. But levels of ‘chronic loneliness’ – defined as being lonely often or always – remained the same as before the lockdown at about 5 per cent, or 2.6 million people. "During the same period, 30.9 per cent of those asked said their wellbeing had been affected through feeling lonely in the past seven days,” the report said. “We refer to this group as ‘lockdown lonely’. If we adjusted this to be representative of the entire Great British population this would be equivalent to 14.3 per cent."

The mental health and loneliness of staff during lockdown has been a concern for businesses. In research by the Mental Health Foundation and LinkedIn more than half (54 per cent) of 1,000-plus HR professionals surveyed said they believed mental health issues such as stress, burnout, isolation and loneliness had increased among their workforce since the coronavirus crisis hit and most workers have had to do their jobs from home. And almost three in five (58 per cent) feared losing staff to sick leave as a result of the mental health effects of working in lockdown.

10.20am Expert warns redundancies ahead as businesses hit new furlough rule deadline this week

Businesses will have just a few days to decide if they will make staff redundant as changes to the furlough scheme deadline loom, an employment law expert has warned. Andrew Sanford, business advisory partner at Blick Rothenberg, said bosses would need to make some "tough business decisions" on whether to make staff redundant as soon changes to the job retention scheme would see employers making financial contributions to furloughed staff's wages from August onwards.

Speaking to Wales Online, he said: "Regrettably, with the additional costs of furloughing staff, and the inevitable restrictions likely to be in place post lockdown, businesses will have to consider whether it is economically viable to continue furloughing all of their staff and many may be made redundant. Businesses have until [Wednesday 10 June] to inform their employees who is going to be furloughed, if they have previously not been furloughed."

8.20am New travel quarantine rules will cause thousands of tourism industry job losses, says airline boss

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has warned that the new travel quarantine rules coming into force today will cause “untold devastation” for the UK’s tourism industry. The new rules will require all people arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days or be fined £1,000. Last week, the parent company of airline British Airways confirmed it was taking legal counsel in a bid to challenge the government’s new policy.

Speaking to BBC Radio’s 4 Today programme this morning, O'Leary said: "What it is going to do is untold devastation, not just to the airlines but to British tourism. The thousands of hotels, the thousands of visitor attractions, restaurants in the next couple of months – July and August are the two key months for British tourism in the tourism industry. We’re facing thousands of job losses because of a stupid, ineffective quarantine."

7.50am £36bn of government-backed loans will be 'toxic' for businesses, warns taskforce

Up to £36bn worth of government-backed business loans could turn 'toxic' by next year, as companies struggle to repay growing debts during the Covid-19 crisis, a report has warned. An interim report by the Recapitalisation Group, led by EY and lobby group TheCityUK, projected that businesses will be saddled with £97bn-£107bn worth of unsustainable debt by March 2021, and a third of that total will come from government-backed loans.

The report outlines a range of measures meant to support businesses and avoid using taxpayer money to cover unpaid debts if firms default on their loans. Those ideas include turning debt into equity or a profit tax, and introducing debt repayment holidays. A final version of the report, which has now been released for consultation, is expected by July.

Friday 5 June

5.30pm Face coverings mandatory for hospital staff from 15 June

In the daily Downing Street press briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock has stated hospital staff in England will be required to wear face coverings – specifically Type 1 or Type 2 surgical masks – from 15 June.

Hospital visitors and outpatients will also have to wear face coverings. This follows the announcement yesterday (4 June) that face coverings will also be mandatory on public transport from 15 June.

Hancock added it was "critically important" to stop the virus spreading among hospital staff and patients.

4.30pm Bentley to cut 1,000 jobs 

Luxury carmaker Bentley is set to cut 1,000 of its 4,200 workforce following a downturn in sales across the automotive industry since the pandemic began. Adrian Hallmark, chairman and CEO of Bentley said the virus was a “hastener” in job cuts as it began looking for a quarter of its workforce to accept voluntary redundancy. 

Last month, the company revealed that a quarter (around 1,000) workers had been furloughed due to lockdown and that an additional quarter were working from home. Bentley has since started production at its Crewe factory with reduced staff, but Hallmark warned that it "cannot rule out future compulsory redundancies".

4.20pm CPS to review death of Belly Mujinga following incident during work

The British Transport Police (BTP) has requested the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) review the case of the death of station worker Belly Mujinga, who died from Covid-19 on 5 April. 

A few weeks before her death, Mujinga was reportedly spat at by a man claiming to have Covid-19 while at work at London Victoria station. Last week, the BTP closed the case, concluding there was insufficient evidence that the man spat on Mujinga deliberately, or said he had the virus. However, in a statement today it reopened proceedings, inviting the CPS to conduct an independent review of the available evidence and follow any further lines of enquiry. A petition in support of Mujinga has reached over 1 million signatures. 

3pm Reading Borough Council set to furlough staff

Hundreds of Reading Borough Council staff are set to be furloughed, which could help the council to recoup millions in earnings lost during the coronavirus crisis. The staff set to be furloughed include 125 workers at cultural centres across Reading and the town hall. 

The council’s chief executive and leader have agreed to furlough employees, subject to agreement with staff and trade unions. The move comes after more councils announced they are using the furlough scheme – including Oxford City Council, Colchester Borough Council and Dundee City Council – even though the government did not originally predict the public sector would need to use the scheme. 

2.50pm BA boss threatens lawsuit over UK quarantine plans

The parent company of airline British Airways today confirmed it is taking legal counsel in a bid to challenge the government’s new policy requiring travellers to the UK to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. 

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group described the measures as “an irrational piece of legislation”, and said other airlines would also bring legal challenges against the policy. The plans, which could see travellers who don’t comply with the rules given fines of up to £1,000 to limit the spread of coronavirus in the UK, are due to come into force on Monday. 

1.30pm Victoria's Secret slips into administration, raising fears for more than 800 staff

The UK arm of lingerie brand Victoria's Secret has announced it is going into administration. Victoria’s Secret UK runs 25 stores across the UK and had already furloughed 785 workers after the pandemic forced it to close shops to the public.

The company has called in Deloitte for a "light touch" administration, and administrators will try to find a buyer for its assets or renegotiate its rents. Deloitte administrator Rob Harding said it was “yet another blow to the UK high street” and further evidence of the impact of the pandemic on the retail sector as a whole. He added: "The effect of the lockdowns, combined with broader challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers, has resulted in a funding requirement for this business, resulting in today’s administration."

1pm Number of people travelling to work increased, says ONS

The number of people leaving their house to go to work has increased, according to a weekly report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on lifestyle changes related to the pandemic. 91 per cent of adults across Britain reported leaving their home in the past week, with the number of those travelling to and from work rising to 40 per cent, compared with 36 per cent the week before. 

Almost half of adults (49 per cent) had visited a park or public green space this week, and of these, 39 per cent said they had met with family or friends from outside of their household. For those parents in England to whom it was applicable, 63 per cent felt either very or quite unconfident in sending their children back to school in June. Over half (54 per cent) said they were either very or quite unlikely to do so. 

12.30pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …UK Export Finance

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is the country’s export credit agency, a government department working alongside the Department for International Trade as part of its strategy and operations. Shane Lynch, the organisation’s director of resources, explains how the agency’s focus on business continuity planning and home working drills prior to the pandemic has been incredibly valuable. 

12.25pm Is employee surveillance legal during lockdown?

The speed at which companies transitioned to remote working in March has shown that this type of working is not only possible for all, but offers a whole new way of doing business. However, with the rapid advancement of technology and home working, new legal considerations come into play.  

Employers understandably want to keep track of their staff during this extended period of remote working. Jonathan Rennie and Nicky Beach explain how much is too much. 

12.15pm UK’s furlough scheme to cost less than expected, says watchdog

The job retention scheme will cost less than expected because employers have concentrated its use on part-time and low-paid workers, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said. The fiscal watchdog has cut its estimate of the cost of the furlough scheme from £84bn to £60bn, claiming this 30 per cent drop is because, even though the take-up of the scheme is now higher than expected, the average grant per job is lower than it had assumed.

12pm Pimlico Plumbers founder claims he will sack employees who have 'abused' furlough scheme

Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, has said he will sack employees on furlough who he believes have “abused” the scheme. Mullins told the Telegraph his company will "get rid" of up to 30 employees whom he believes have misused the scheme by going on furlough and not having health problems or living with vulnerable relatives. Mullins said: “Undoubtedly, and I have to say I’m probably being very direct and blunt, the people that abuse the furlough on Pimlico Plumbers we will not have them back. We will get rid of them.”

Currently, it is only office staff who have been placed on furlough by Pimlico Plumbers as the company's plumbers are self-employed – an arrangement that has been criticised in the past – and do not qualify for the scheme. He said the company would protect furloughed workers who have health issues or live with vulnerable people. Under the government's job retention scheme, there is no requirement for employees to have vulnerable circumstances in order to qualify for being placed on furlough. 

11.40am Taylor Wimpey staff return from furlough as demand for new homes rises

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has announced that all its employees have now returned from being furloughed as it says its order book for new homes has swelled over the last month. The company shut offices, construction sites and showrooms in March, but restarted work on construction and pre-booked viewings in May after the government eased the lockdown for the housing market. 

Taylor Wimpey today said it has seen a “very high level of demand for appointments”, with a healthy increase in reservations made recently, meaning all its employees have now returned to work. However, it said many staff members are still working from home, including those shielding or those who are shielding someone vulnerable, and will not ask anyone to return physically to work if they do not feel it is safe for them to do so. 

11.35am Rail unions may strike over government plans for volunteer ‘army’

The RMT union has threatened strike action following transport secretary Grant Shapps’ announcement that an “army” of volunteers will remind travellers about mandatory face coverings. The union claims there was no consultation on the decision and condemns moves to put unpaid workers in “safety-critical roles”. 

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the Department for Transport had “done a backroom deal to recruit unpaid and unskilled workers on our railway without even so much as conversation with rail unions”. The union has raised concerns about “overstretched rail workers at risk of being abused, assaulted and spat at by aggressive passengers”, and called for staff to be properly protected. 

11.30am Job losses are 'tip of the iceberg', says recruitment boss

The boss of recruitment firm Reed has suggested far more people are going to lose their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic based on current trends in the recruitment industry. James Reed said recent job cuts were "perhaps just the tip of the iceberg" as he predicted the unemployment rate in the UK could reach 15 per cent. According to the Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate sits at 3.9 per cent for January to March 2020.

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, Reed said: "My concern is that the data that we're seeing, which is that the number of jobs advertised is down two-thirds and has been consistently for two months now, suggests that there could be a lot more job losses to come." Reed's prediction comes Bentley, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and Lookers all announced job cuts this week. 

Thursday 4 June

2.30pm Debenhams to start reopening shops after lockdown

Debenhams plans to reopen three stores in Northern Ireland on Monday (8 June), followed by 50 shops in England the week after. The retailer went into administration for the second time in April after a severe drop in sales because of the pandemic, but Debenhams has struck deals with landlords to keep 120 stores open.

However, 17 stores will remain closed for good when coronavirus lockdown is lifted, and it is still in discussions about the fate of a "handful" of other stores. Steven Cook, managing director of Debenhams, said: "We are delighted to be welcoming customers back to our stores in the coming weeks. From the installation of perspex screens at till points to the roll-out of social distancing procedures and PPE, we have been working hard to ensure our colleagues and customers can work and shop with confidence."

1.20pm Government considering guaranteed apprenticeships for young people, says prime minister

The prime minister has suggested the government could guarantee apprenticeships for all young people as part of efforts to boost employment as the country feels the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Boris Johnson told a press conference yesterday there will be “many, many job losses” across the country as a result of the crisis, and said young people in particular faced a “risk they will be out of jobs for a long time”.

He added that it would be “vital” that the government guarantees apprenticeships for young people, and said it would adopt an “activist and interventionist” approach to the country’s economic recovery. Analysis from the Office for National Statistics has shown that young people aged 16-24 have had the biggest reduction in their working hours since the crisis began, seeing on average a drop of 5.4 per cent. Meanwhile, a recent report from the Resolution Foundation found that employees aged 16-24 were twice as likely to work in sectors of the economy shut down by the coronavirus crisis as the rest of the workforce.

12.45pm Work is detrimental to employee wellbeing, CIPD survey finds

The number of people seeing benefits to their mental health from work was already in decline before the coronavirus outbreak struck, a CIPD survey has found, raising concerns about the further impact the virus is having on staff wellbeing.  The CIPD found the number of people reporting that work had positively affected their mental health dropped 9 percentage points over the last two years, from 44 per cent to 35 per cent. 

The report raised other ‘red flags’ about the impact of work on mental health, with 22 per cent of respondents reporting they felt exhausted, 21 per cent admitting being under excessive pressure and 11 per cent saying they were often miserable at work. Jonny Gifford, senior research adviser at the CIPD, said even before the pandemic, work was becoming worse for our health: “As the full scale of the economic crisis unfolds, the outlook looks even bleaker. We’ll likely see employers trying to do more with less, which will only increase people’s workload and the pressure they are already under."

11.40am Protected disclosures and coronavirus

With employees gradually beginning to return to the workplace, employers must make sure health and safety concerns don’t become whistleblowing opportunities, explains Toyah Marshall.

9.45am Car dealership Lookers to cut 1,500 jobs

Car dealership Lookers has announced it will cut up to 1,500 jobs as it plans to close more of its shops in the UK. The company, which employs 8,000 people, announced it would shut a number of its sites and because of the "structural changes taking place across the industry" it will need to make almost a fifth of its workforce redundant.

Mark Raban, chief executive for Lookers, said: "We have taken the decision to restructure the size of the group's dealership estate to position the business for a sustainable future, which regrettably means redundancy consultation with a number of our colleagues." Lookers resumed trading and reopened its car showrooms on 1 June with social distancing measures in place. 

7.20am Rolls-Royce confirms 3,000 job cuts across the UK

Rolls-Royce has begun the process by offering voluntary redundancy to everyone in its UK civil aerospace division, and staff could leave the firm as early as July.

Wednesday 3 June

3.40pm Standard Life Aberdeen tells staff to work from home for rest of 2020

The majority of workers at Standard Life Aberdeen have been told to continue working from home for the rest of this year, according to an internal staff memo seen by The Times. 

Mike Tumilty, the firm’s chief operating officer, told the 4,900 UK employees that he was planning for only “a small number of colleagues to return to office working over the coming months,” and that “One of the consistent messages across the UK is that, where possible, people should work from home if they can and this very much applies to financial services and therefore our business”. 

3.25pm How to avoid discrimination claims during lockdown and as staff return to work

During a CIPD webinar, the EHRC’s Charlotte Billington warned firms that don’t approach decisions fairly will face ‘employment tribunal claims and costly legal fees’. She added: “There is increased scrutiny on employers at the moment, so make sure the decisions you make aren’t discriminatory or victimising against a certain group. The public narrative and media focus is currently on employers that aren’t focusing on diversity and looking after employee needs.”

So what can employers do to ensure strong diversity and inclusion practices in the face of continued lockdown and home working, and as staff return to work?

3.15pm Move to monthly pay harming low earners already hit hardest by coronavirus pandemic, warns think tank

The move to monthly pay has left millions of the UK’s lowest-paid workers waiting longer for their money, disadvantaging many of the most vulnerable workers, a think tank has warned

In a new report, A new settlement for the low paid, the Resolution Foundation said the large-scale move to monthly payments meant the lowest-paid workers were in effect lending money to their employers – being owed on average £161 more on any given day than workers paid weekly – which is forcing some to turn to high-interest loans because of their own cash flow issues.

On top of this, it added that lower-paid workers had also been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, being either the most likely to have lost their jobs because of the forced closure of businesses, or key workers putting their health at risk by working on the frontline.

12.10pm Tackling underperformance during lockdown

Work psychologist Ian MacRae explains how HR and managers can ensure that any negative behaviour employees may have picked up over the last 10 weeks doesn’t become permanent. 

12pm Latest changes to the job retention scheme

Michelle Hobbs, senior associate at law firm Stevens & Bolton, outlines what the government’s new furlough rules mean for employers, from short-time working to the tapering of the grant. 

11am British Airways faces standoff with unions over restructure

Unions Unite and GMB are refusing to enter talks with British Airways over plans to restructure its business, as Unite accuses the airline of using the coronavirus crisis to force through changes that will leave its members permanently worse off. 

On 28 April, BA formally notified its staff that consultations were beginning over a large restructure, which could result in up to 12,000 redundancies. The notice also warned staff that if an agreement over new terms could not be reached it would terminate current employee contracts and issue new ones. While pilots’ union Balpa has come to the table to discuss the restructure, other unions representing cabin crew and check-in staff are still refusing to enter talks, with Unite general secretary Len McCluskey saying “no other employer has threatened to effectively 'fire and rehire' its entire workforce”. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic saw aircraft grounded worldwide and travel restricted, BA has furloughed more than 22,600 staff through the government’s job retention scheme. 

8.40am Some Frankie & Benny's sites won't reopen after lockdown, says owner

The owner of Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkel's is set to tell staff that a "large number" of its outlets will not reopen after lockdown. In an email to staff seen by the BBC, The Restaurant Group, which owns the chains, said many restaurant sites are "no longer viable to trade and will remain closed permanently".

Staff will be told whether their workplaces will remain shut by email today. According to the BBC, the previous email announcing that some sites would not reopen said: "The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted our ability to trade profitably, so we've taken the tough decision to close these restaurants now." Staff were told it is "likely your role will be made redundant" unless the group is able to find any suitable alternative roles. 

Tuesday 2 June

2.45pm HMRC receives more than 1,800 reports of furlough fraud

More than 1,800 complaints in relation to companies potentially making fraudulent claims under the government’s job retention scheme have been made to HMRC as of Friday (29 May). According to HMRC, this number has more than doubled from 795 as of 12 May, to 1,868 two-and-a-half weeks later. An HMRC spokesperson said “fraudulent claims limit our ability to support people and deprive public services of essential funding”, adding: “We’d ask anyone concerned their employer might be abusing the scheme to please contact us. It could be that you’re not being paid what you’re entitled to, they might be asking you to work while you’re on furlough, or they may have claimed for times when you were working.”

2.40pm More than a quarter of UK workers now furloughed

Some 300,000 more UK workers have been furloughed in the past week, raising the total to 8.7 million since the start of the coronavirus crisis, government figures show. This equates to more than a quarter of the UK's workforce being supported by the scheme. Another 200,000 self-employed have taken up government grants, meaning 2.5 million have been given support through the self-employed income support scheme. 

12.20pm Excess workloads and fear of redundancy driving lockdown presenteeism, study finds

UK employees working from home during the coronavirus crisis are facing increased pressure to be available and are less able to switch off from work, a survey has shown, with excess workloads and fear of redundancies driving presenteeism. Almost half (46 per cent) of Brits carrying out their jobs remotely during lockdown reported feeling more pressure to be ‘present’ for their employer and colleagues, with more than a third (35 per cent) saying they had continued to work despite feeling unwell.

Of those who had worked through illness, 40 per cent said this was because they didn’t feel they were sick enough to warrant a day off. However, more than a quarter (26 per cent)  reported workload as a reason for not taking a day off, and 16 per cent cited fear of redundancy.

12pm EasyJet to resume flights on half its routes by end of July

EasyJet will resume flights on half of its 1,022 routes by the end of July, increasing to 75 per cent during August. The Luton-based carrier said flights will be at a lower frequency than normal, meaning the airline will operate at around 30 per cent of its normal capacity between July and September.

The airline previously announced it would resume operations on 15 June, but flights would mainly be restricted to domestic routes in the UK and France. EasyJet said a series of new safety measures would be introduced to protect staff and passengers, including requiring passengers to wear face masks at airports and on aircraft. Other steps to boost hygiene include not selling food during flights, enhanced cleaning of planes and disinfection wipes and hand sanitiser being provided.

11.45am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Paula Ward, organisational development director for the trust, shares how her team has helped supercharge the development of virtual outpatient clinics and empower staff to come up with innovative ways of doing things.

8.55am Alton Towers preparing for July reopening

Managers for Alton Towers are "optimistic" that the theme park will be open to visitors at the start of July. Visitors will be asked to pre-book tickets so numbers can be limited for social distancing, and people will have their temperatures checked before they are allowed to enter the theme park. Emma Catterall, divisional director at Alton Towers added: "We will temperature-check both guests and staff to make sure that people coming on to site are fit and healthy."

7.15am Oxfam to start reopening in England from 15 June

Oxfam will begin reopening its network of charity shops in England from 15 June, but has not yet confirmed which stores would open nor how many of them. However, it said there would be space for social distancing, staff and volunteers would have the necessary personal protective equipment, donated items will be isolated for 72 hours and all surfaces, doors and equipment will be regularly cleaned.

Oxfam, which has 595 outlets around the UK, said shops in Scotland and Wales will remain closed at this stage, as no dates have yet been set for retailers to reopen there. Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB chief executive, said: "Our shops are a much-loved part of their communities and, at this difficult time, we can't wait to reopen our doors and reconnect with our supporters and shoppers."

Monday 1 June

3.05pm Dealing with harassment in the remote workplace

Menna Chmielewski outlines how employers can minimise inappropriate behaviour in the new working environment created by Covid-19. 

3pm Coronavirus ‘test and trace’ system could prompt employment disputes surge, experts warn

The government’s new test and trace system to monitor coronavirus outbreaks could contribute to an increase in workplace disputes and even tribunals, some experts have warned

Under the scheme, those who have come into close contact with someone who tests positive will receive a phone call, text message or email telling them to stay at home for two weeks, even if they have no symptoms. The idea is to avoid national lockdowns, with more localised restrictions used instead. However, Emilie Cole, partner and employment lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, warned of a potential rise in employment tribunals where staff felt unable to stay away from their jobs to self-isolate. The question, she said, was whether employees would be willing to take things as far as making a claim.

2.55pm New-look job retention scheme – what’s the detail now it’s been announced?

On Friday (29 May), chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the long-awaited detail on his plans to wind down the furlough scheme by October. This included detail on the creation of new flexibilities allowing employees to work part time while still being eligible for furlough grants, and the introduction of employer contributions.

Sunak also used this as an opportunity to announce a “new collective national effort” to revive Britain’s economy, with details of a new job creation scheme expected in the near future.

As employer groups welcome the chancellor’s approach, People Management gives the lowdown on the new system

1pm Hotels in Northern Ireland to reopen in July

Northern Ireland’s hotels can reopen from 20 July as long as the rate of infection is under control, Stormont economy minister Diane Dodds has said. "I believe the time is right to provide the tourist accommodation sector with clarity about opening dates,” Dodds said. “I want to build upon the positive progress in managing the spread of the virus and begin to reopen our tourism industry in a safe and managed way."

The reopening on 20 July is expected to cover hotels, hostels, guesthouses and guest accommodation, as well as holiday and home parks, caravan sites and self-catering properties – although the latter may be opened earlier depending on scientific advice. Dodds gave no further details on the health and safety precautions that employers in this sector would be expected to take. 

10.20am Primark plans to reopen all 153 stores in England on 15 June

Primark has said it plans to reopen all 153 of its English stores on 15 June, as non-essential retailers across England begin to restart their businesses as well. The fast fashion retailer said it will introduce physical-distancing protocols in stores, as well as hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens at tills and additional cleaning of high-frequency touch points. All employees will also be offered personal protection, including masks and gloves.

Primark has already reopened 112 stores in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, and said trading in its reopened stores “has been both reassuring and encouraging, with customer queues outside most stores and, once in store, spending on larger basket sizes”. Primark said it had paid £10m to help low-paid workers in its supply chain in countries such as Bangladesh. 

8.30am Government planning large job creation scheme

As well as announcing details of how the furlough scheme will be wound down and made more flexible, chancellor Rishi Sunak used Friday’s daily Downing Street press conference to announce a “new collective national effort” to revive Britain’s economy, with ministers telling the Financial Times that Sunak and prime minister Boris Johnson are planning a big job creation scheme to address the danger of mass unemployment. Johnson is discussing with ministers a job creation programme – focusing on upgrading infrastructure, including broadband and green energy projects – while Gavin Williamson, education secretary, is drawing up a skills package to retrain workers, particularly the young, the FT reported.

Friday 29 May 

5.15pm Sunak announces furlough scheme flexibilities and employer contribution details

From 1 July employers will be able to bring furlough workers back part time while still claiming from the job retention scheme, the chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced. Employers will pay normal staff wages on the days they are working, and be able to claim from the furlough scheme when they are not. Because this will be a new scheme, any employers who want to put staff on furlough need to do so by 10 June – to allow them to complete the minimum three weeks required – if they want to make use of these new flexibilities.
The chancellor also announced plans for employers to start contributing. In June and July the scheme will continue as before, with the government paying 80 per cent of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. From August, employers will be asked to pay national insurance and employer pensions contributions, which Sunak estimated would account for about 5 per cent of total employment costs. From September the government’s contributions will drop to 70 per cent, with employers expected to make up 10 per cent. In October, the final month of the scheme, the government will pay for 60 per cent of wages with employers expected to contribute 20 per cent.
Following pressure to extend it beyond its previous closing date of this weekend, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will be opened for a second round in August. Grants will be dropped to 70 per cent of earnings, or a maximum of £6,570, for three months to bring this in line with the new job retention scheme. 

4pm BA to outsource the work of 450 redundant employees 

British Airways is proposing to outsource the work of at least 450 furloughed employees it is making redundant, according to the Guardian. Last month the airline proposed cutting as many as 12,000 jobs in response to the pandemic. Jobs at risk in the outsourcing proposals include ticketing services, returning lost baggage to passengers and planning the balance of weight in the plane, known as centralised load control. 
Nadine Houghton, national officer for the GMB union, said: “BA’s actions so far have been deeply cynical and opportunistic. Taking taxpayer money through furlough and Covid loans and then offshoring hundreds of jobs to other countries is about as unpatriotic as you can get. This behaviour from our national flag-carrier is unacceptable.” 
A BA spokesman said: “We are acting now to protect as many jobs as possible. The airline industry is facing the deepest structural change in its history, as well as facing a severely weakened global economy. We are committed to consulting openly with our unions and our people as we prepare for a new future.”

12.45pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...St Mungo’s

Helen Giles, executive director of people and governance at St Mungo's, shares how the charity is involved in a drive to allow rough sleepers to self-isolate in hotel rooms, which means looking after staff redeployed to work in new ways and locations. 

11.30am How DHL Express has taken care of its workforce in a time of crisis

Regine Buettner shares how her team has approached HR during a pandemic, including personalised ‘thank you’ videos and letting internal talent step into stretch roles.

10.30am One in five people concerned about health and safety at work, says ONS poll

One in five people (20 per cent) say they are concerned about health and safety at work, according to a weekly survey of the social impact of the coronavirus by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This was a rise from only 11 per cent who said the same last week.
Additionally, the ONS found a larger number of the 1,028 adults surveyed cited mental health concerns related to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions. 29 per cent said the pandemic was negatively impacting their mental health, up from 26 per cent last week. Three in five (62 per cent) people said they were worried about the future and felt bored, compared to 51 per cent who said the same last week.
9.30am Only half of eligible firms report gender pay gap

The number of organisations who reported their gender pay gap this year was half that of the previous year, the Financial Times reports, raising concerns that the coronavirus outbreak might stall efforts to improve gender equality in the workplace. Analysis done by the paper found the average pay gap increased from 11.9 per cent to 12.9 per cent in the year to April.

In March this this year the government effectively removed the requirements for companies to report their gender pay data in order to ease the burden on HR departments dealing with the coronavirus crisis. However, the move was widely criticised, with many experts warning that women were already likely to be more disadvantaged than men by the outbreak.
8.50am Debenhams cuts more than 1,000 jobs

Debenhams is cutting more than 1,000 jobs at its headquarters and in stores as a result of several store closures and in line with social distancing measures. The redundancies in merchandising, buying, design and other administrative functions at head office, as well as in cafes and other services in stores that will not reopen under social distancing rules, come after the department store went into administration last month – the second time in a year. The firm has confirmed plans to permanently close 17 of its 142 outlets. The majority of staff have been furloughed in response to lockdown, although Debenham’s website has continued to trade.
8.45am Renault to cut 15,000 jobs

Renault is cutting 15,000 jobs worldwide as part of a €2bn (£1.8bn) cost-cutting plan in response to a hit to sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Some 4,600 job cuts will be in France, and the firm has begun talks with unions. Renault said the plans would affect about 10 per cent of its 179,000-strong global workforce. "This plan is essential," said chief executive Clotilde Delbos, who announced cuts in production to focus on more profitable car models.

8.30am MPs urge extension of self-employed support scheme

MPs have urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme which is due to end this weekend after being open for three months. A cross-party group of 114 MPs have signed a letter sent by Labour's Siobhain McDonagh to Sunak. 
“This scheme is a lifeline for millions of locked-down workers right across the country," the letter says. "There are already significant holes in the support, but removing what is already in place would pull the safety net from under the feet of millions of self-employed workers. How can it be right for the furloughed scheme to continue but this scheme to not?” Earlier in May, the chancellor said the scheme was “under review” but he has not given any indication of its future since then. On Thursday (28 May), the prime minister also said extending the scheme was "under review”.

Thursday 28 May

5.30pm MPs call for urgent action to safeguard aviation jobs

Urgent government action is needed to safeguard jobs in the aviation industry, a cross-party group of 40 MPs has said. The newly formed Future of Aviation Group issued the call in a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. They complained of  a “lack of progress" in providing wider support for the industry. "The wider aviation family makes a significant economic and social contribution to the UK and will be central to our long-term economic recovery," the MPs wrote. "We need urgent action now to safeguard jobs," they added. "The consequences of inaction in this vital area are simply unthinkable."

2.30pm Extend SSP rebate scheme to all employers, says REC

As the test and trace system gets underway, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has called for the government to extend its statutory sick pay (SSP) rebate scheme from businesses with fewer than 250 staff to employers of all sizes in order to aid economic recovery. In a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak, the REC said that extending SSP, especially to recruitment agencies which typically have high volumes of temporary workers, is necessary so workers who are asked to self-isolate can do so safely.

The coronavirus statutory sick pay rebate scheme, which was announced during the budget in March as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the crisis, launched on 26 May. Employers receive payments at the relevant rate of SSP, currently £95.85 per week, paid to current or former employees unable to work as a result of being ill with coronavirus, self-isolating and unable to work, or shielding because they’re at ‘high risk’ of severe illness from coronavirus. The repayment covers up to two weeks of SSP for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March.

1.15pm Most employers expect staff to continue home working for some time, survey finds

Only 4 per cent of employers have returned staff to a place of work following the relaxation of lockdown rules earlier this month, a poll of HR professionals has found. Despite the government’s efforts to slowly restart the economy – with prime minister Boris Johnson asking employees unable to work from home to start going back to work from 11 May – a survey of more than 500 People Management magazine readers found the vast majority of employers were still asking staff to work from home for the foreseeable future.

Over half of those polled expected their staff to continue working from home for some time still, while another 24 per cent said they were waiting for the government to give specific guidance for their sector before returning staff to the workplace. (An additional 17 per cent said their staff had worked through the lockdown).

12.25pm Pret to reopen 204 more UK stores

Pret a Manger is to reopen another 204 shops for takeaway and delivery from 1 June, taking its openings across the UK to more than 300. The coffee and food chain has about 500 outlets in the UK and has gradually been reopening them since mid-April.

The shops will serve a stripped-down menu to help with physical distancing in kitchens, and safety measures in the reopened stores include protective screens in front of tills and limits on the number of customers in shops. Pano Christou, the chief executive of Pret, said the chain is "rapidly transforming its business" in light of the pandemic and decline in footfall, adding: “It’s going to continue to be tough for Pret in the months ahead, and I’d like to thank our team members who are returning to work and making reopening possible.”

12.20pm Cineworld plans to reopen all UK cinemas in July

Cineworld, the world's second largest cinema chain, is planning to reopen its 128 venues in the UK and Ireland in July as the government eases coronavirus lockdown measures. It said it is hoping to reopen in time to coincide with the release of two summer blockbusters – Christopher Nolan's Tenet and Disney's Mulan. The company added it anticipates government restrictions related to cinemas will be lifted by July, which means it will reopen its venues. 

The company said reopening cinemas would go hand-in-hand with physical distancing and hygiene rules to "ensure a safe and enjoyable cinema experience for its employees and customers”. However, Cineworld did not go into detail about what these rules would entail. Rival cinema chain Vue, one of Europe’s largest cinema operators, has also said it intends to reopen in July with measures including physically isolating family groups and staggering film times to reduce crowding. Vue has previously said other measures would include controlling entrances and exits and reducing the overall capacity of each film screening.

12.10pm Domestic violence: should HR get involved?

There has been an increase in reported cases of abuse in the home since lockdown began. Angela Paradise advises on what people teams can do – during the current crisis and beyond.

12.00pm Making redundancies during Covid-19

Emily Russell explains what employers must consider, including consulting obligations and trade union representatives. 

11.50am What can an employer do if someone refuses to return to work?

The coronavirus lockdown has created an abundance of unforeseen and unprecedented workplace conundrums for UK employers. And there is another tough task looming: asking people to come back into the workplace, in light of prime minister Boris Johnson’s amended guidance, issued 11 May, that those who cannot work from home should return to work.

While usually an employee refusing to attend work would be fair grounds for disciplinary and potentially dismissal, the pandemic has turned employment law gospel firmly on its head. So what action can employers take if employees refuse to return to work, without falling foul of the law? People Management asks legal experts how to approach the knotty issue of asking staff to come back to a workplace and the key employment law principles to consider.

10am 8.4 million workers now covered by furlough scheme

Around 8.4 million workers are now being supported by the government’s job retention scheme, up from eight million a week ago, the Treasury has said, with employers claiming £15bn worth of subsidies. An additional 2.3 million claims have been made through a similar scheme for the self-employed.

8.20am EasyJet plans thousands of job cuts

EasyJet has announced it plans to cut up to 30 per cent of its 15,000-strong workforce as it struggles to cope with the collapse in demand for air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement comes as easyJet confirmed it would restart flights on 15 June. However, it said levels of market demand seen in 2019 were not likely to be reached again until 2023, and as a result the firm would need to cut costs and jobs.

It added that in the coming days, it would launch an employee consultation process on the planned job cuts. The airline’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: "We realise that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions that will impact on our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long term."

8.10am 270 council workers in Oxford furloughed 

A total of 270 Oxford City Council staff members have now been furloughed. A decision published by the council's website earlier this month showed that 20 workers were initially furloughed in April. The council's chief executive, Gordon Mitchell, announced last week (20 May) that the "severe financial crisis" caused by the coronavirus pandemic had contributed to the stark rise in the number of furloughed workers. 

Mitchel said there had initially been "quite a lot of uncertainty about whether local authorities could apply" for the furlough scheme because, when the scheme was first announced, the government said it did not envisage public sector employees would be furloughed as they believed most employers in this sector would continue to offer essential services. But Mitchell added: "I’m very clear the guidance does not exclude local authorities, although the political narrative has consistently come back to suggest that local authorities shouldn’t really be making use of it."

7.40am One in four firms using furlough scheme say they could not top up wages

A quarter of firms using the coronavirus job retention scheme say they will not be able to pay anything towards salaries after the scheme is cut back, according to a survey of 697 business leaders by the Institute of Directors (IoD). However, around half of companies that used the scheme said they could provide 20 per cent or above towards furloughed workers’ salaries. 

The government is reportedly considering reducing the current wage subsidy paid by the state – which currently sits at 80 per cent of the individual’s salary – to 60 per cent, and chancellor Rishi Sunak has said employers will be expected to "top up" this wage subsidy. The exact amount employers will be expected to contribute is still unknown, and expected to be announced at the end of this week. Jonathan Geldart, director general of the IoD, called on the government to make the furlough scheme more flexible as the "more flexible the scheme is, the better firms can recover and the fewer jobs will rely on state subsidy”.

Wednesday 27 May

5.45pm PM faces MPs’ questions on female employment, the self-employed scheme’s end and abuse of furlough

During a session of questions from MPs, prime minister Boris Johnson was asked about legal protections for women returning to work. He said: "It is very important people are given the protections they need and while it is true more women have been furloughed, it is also a more generous scheme than virtually any other scheme in the world.” The PM said a general study was being conducted across Whitehall on inequalities linked to Covid, which would report at the end of the month

Asked why the self-employed support scheme was coming to an end this weekend while furlough had been extended, Johnson said: “I really do understand the needs of the self-employed at this time… We will look at whether that can be set against furlough.” On a similar question later, he said: “As the chancellor said when we announced the scheme, we will keep it under review. Don’t forget self-employed people already have the access to bounce back loans… People are of course eligible for all other sorts of government support, including universal credit”. Asked about British Airways putting employees on the furlough scheme but threatening them with redundancy, he said: "People should not be using furlough to cynically keep people on their books and then get rid of them."

4pm Furlough changes could involve barring firms from putting new staff on the scheme

As latest government figures reveal a third of the British workforce is now covered by the furlough scheme, at a cost of almost £22bn to the Treasury, the Guardian reports that draft plans for the furlough scheme’s extension and new flexibilities are understood to involve employers contributing 20 per cent of salaries while the government pays 60 per cent up to the cap of 2,500 a month. Employers will also be expected to pay national insurance contributions, which they are currently exempt from. The chancellor is also considering shutting the furlough scheme to new entrants, which would bring the side effect of preventing employers from rotating staff who are currently not working with those who have spent recent weeks at work, leading to calls for government to give a lengthy gap between announcing the end to new applications and the cut-off date for that point.

2.50pm Schools and workplaces could see 'local lockdowns', minister says

"Local lockdowns" could see schools and workplaces in targeted areas of England that have "flare-ups" of coronavirus temporarily returning to lockdown restrictions, the communities secretary Robert Jenrick has said. Jenrick said restrictions on returning to work in offices and on schools reopening could be introduced at a "micro level" to control the virus in particular communities in which the number of Covid-19 cases had risen. He said the measures would be part of the test and trace system, which would be ready by next week, and that health secretary Matt Hancock will give more details. 

Hancock first mentioned such "local lockdowns" during Tuesday's (26 May) coronavirus briefing. Jenrick said the government's test and trace system would have a "local element" and identify flare-ups in particular places, such as parts of towns, schools, hospitals and workplaces. He told the BBC: "That enables us then to take action in that place which will be restrictive on the individuals who live and work there... but as a result of that we'll be able to provide greater freedom to millions of other people across the country, enabling us to continue to ease the lockdown, ease the return to school, to work and to the daily activities that we all want to get back to."

1.10pm Half of employers still anticipate redundancies when furlough ends, survey reveals

Nearly half of employers that have furloughed staff still anticipate having to make redundancies when the government’s job retention scheme comes to an end, a poll of HR professionals has found.

In the survey of more than 500 People Management readers about their plans to return people to work, 42 per cent expected to make a limited number of redundancies when the furlough scheme ended – on top of any redundancies they had already made. A further 8 per cent said they expected to make a large number of redundancies.

12.10pm The five foundations of self-care

By focusing on the key elements of self-care, leaders can help their teams safeguard their wellbeing during the pandemic, says Doug Upchurch.

12.05pm Key questions about the furlough extension

Following the announcement that the coronavirus job retention scheme will now run until October, Helen Watson answers important queries for employers.

11.10am Halfords to reopen 53 stores after physical-distancing trial

Halfords is to fully reopen 53 stores after a successful trial of physical-distancing measures on its shop floors. These distancing measures include queueing marshals outside stores, ‘sneeze screens’ for shoppers and staff, and customers being asked not to handle or try on products. Halfords has been operating 335 of its 446 shops under a ‘dark store’ model during lockdown, meaning customers have been unable to browse and instead have been placing orders with staff outside the front of the store. Among the sites reopening are Gloucester, Huddersfield, Inverness and North Shields. A number of the stores opened over the weekend and all 53 will be open by Friday (29 May).

11am UK furlough scheme now covers 8.4 million workers

Some 8.4 million workers are now covered by the government's furlough scheme, up from eight million last week, the Treasury has announced. Claims for subsidies filed by employers rose to £15bn from £11.1bn, it added. The government has said details of increased flexibility to the scheme in line with its extension to October will be announced this week. Though the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August, sources have told the BBC the Treasury still expects to pay more than half the costs between August and October.

8.45am Greggs to reopen 800 stores in mid-June

Greggs is to reopen 800 stores across the UK from mid-June, following a successful trial at a handful of branches in the north-east where it tested safety measures put in place to protect staff and customers. The chain closed all of its 2,050 stores on 24 March, even though government rules specified kitchen areas could stay open for takeaway orders. It then changed its mind about reopening 20 locations, fearing enthusiastic customers might gather in crowds.

8.30am Working mums doing most childcare and chores in lockdown

In homes where there is a working mother and father, women are doing more chores and spending more time with children during lockdown, according to a new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London. They interviewed 3,500 families and found mums were only able to do one hour of uninterrupted work for every three hours done by dads.

"Mothers are doing, on average, more childcare and more housework than fathers who have the same work arrangements," said Lucy Kraftman, research economist at the IFS, adding that this also applied to families where both parents were furloughed or out of work. "The only set of households where we see mothers and fathers sharing childcare and housework equally are those in which both parents were previously working, but the father has now stopped working for pay, while the mother is still in paid work.”

Tuesday 26 May 

5pm McLaren to cut 1,200 jobs as virus hits demand

UK supercar maker and Formula 1 team McLaren plans to cut more than a quarter of its workforce of around 4,000 people. Of the 1,200 to be made redundant, the vast majority will be in the UK. Formula 1 racing has been suspended, while orders for McLaren's supercars have fallen because of the pandemic. McLaren's Formula 1 operation expects to lose about 70 people from its 800-strong workforce. The company said it had worked hard to cut costs and avoid layoffs. "But we now have no other choice but to reduce the size of our workforce," chairman Paul Walsh said in a statement.

1pm Reopening guidance for non-essential retailers – what staff protections does it lay out?

All non-essential retailers in England will be able to reopen from 15 June as part of ongoing plans to further ease lockdown, prime minister Boris Johnson has announced. Along with the announcement, the government has published new guidance for the retail sector to help protect shoppers and workers – which Johnson said would “ensure there can be no doubt about what steps [retailers] should take".

So what does the latest guidance for retailers advise?

12.05pm Poundland to reopen stores across UK

Discount retailer Poundland said another 26 of its stores across the UK, which have been closed throughout the coronavirus outbreak, are to reopen this week. This will be in addition to the 51 Poundland stores opened last week. 

Poundland said that while it had kept most stores open for essential shopping, about 100 were temporarily shut in March. The newly reopened stores will have "robust" health and safety measures in place like all the stores that have remained open, including door marshals, floor markers to help maintain social distancing, perspex screens at checkouts and no self-checkouts.

11.20am Unfair dismissals in the age of coronavirus

Richard Thomas explores how employers can best mitigate the risk of claims in the new working environment brought by Covid-19.

11.10am Making the most of working through lockdown

Now is a good time to invest hin our wellbeing by creating healthy work habits at home, exploring self-care methods and staying connected with colleagues, says Sarah McIntosh.

10.40am Nando’s opening 54 restaurants for delivery and collection from today

Nando’s has announced that 54 restaurants across the UK will open for delivery and click and collect orders, with another 40 reopening tomorrow (27 May). After a successful trial of phased reopening over the past few weeks, Nando’s said it will be opening restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, London and Belfast. 

The chain said all food will be prepared and delivered under strict UK and Irish government guidelines to make sure restaurant teams, delivery drivers and customers are safe. There also will be strict social distancing in place, with reduced numbers of staff to make sure that’s possible. The menu will also be reduced to help workers maintain social distance in the kitchen and food prep areas.

10am Volunteering has soared during coronavirus crisis, research finds

Ten million UK adults have been volunteering in their community during the Covid-19 pandemic, and most say they will carry on after lockdown, according to new research. In a study by Legal & General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, one in five UK adults (19 per cent) said they have volunteered their time for community activities, such as helping with grocery shopping for others, picking up prescriptions, ringing up people living alone or helping out at a local food bank, since the start of the lockdown on 23 March. With each individual contributing an average of around three hours each week, the work was estimated to have an equivalent economic value of more than £350m a week. The research found that millennials were the least likely age group to volunteer.

9.50am BA planning to rehire employees on worse terms, says union

Union Unite has claimed British Airways plans to fire the vast majority of its workforce and rehire them on reduced pay and worse terms. BA informed unions last month that it was holding a consultation on as many as 12,000 job cuts. BA’s chief executive, Álex Cruz, wrote a letter to staff on Friday (22 May) criticising Unite and the GMB union for failing to attend consultation meetings. Balpa, the pilots’ union, had engaged in consultations, the airline said. Both Unite and GMB are understood to be considering legal action against BA on the basis that a meaningful consultation is impossible during lockdown.

9.45am Auto Windscreens owner imposes pay cut on staff

The owner of Auto Windscreens has imposed 20 per cent pay cuts on staff who have not agreed to them and allegedly pressured other employees into consenting, according to the Guardian. Around 3 per cent of staff did not agree to the cut, but it was imposed anyway, raising questions on the legality of the deductions for these staff. Having furloughed around 900 workers in March, the Markerstudy Group – which employs around 3,000 people – asked those remaining to take a temporary wage cut, backdated to 1 April, and give up sick pay. Some staff told the Guardian they received calls from managers telling them to sign the document or they would be made redundant.

A spokeswoman said: “Markerstudy has worked with staff to try and minimise, insofar as possible, the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic on every area of their business. It is not appropriate to comment on individual situations or circumstances. [The company is] not aware of any threats being made to staff, and take such allegations seriously.”

9.20am Non-essential shops to reopen from 15 June 

As part of plans to further ease lockdown, Boris Johnson has said non-essential retailers will be able to reopen in England from 15 June. Johnson advised retailers to follow new government guidance to protect shoppers and workers, which includes social distancing and the use of PPE. 

The British Retail Consortium said it gave “much-needed clarity”, but the British Association of Independent Retailers said many small shops had been preparing to open from next week, calling the announcement “a little disappointing”. 

Friday 22 May

12.15pm Wetherspoons sets out post-lockdown plan for pubs

Wetherspoons has outlined plans for reopening hundreds of pubs once lockdown restrictions are eased. It said staff will be provided with face masks and protective eyewear, and pubs will run a reduced food menu. Wetherspoons boss John Hutson said: "The safety of our staff and customers is paramount".

The firm said it is also planning to hire two new full-time employees per pub, charged with sanitising door handles and hand rails as well as ensuring that customers are sticking to social distancing measures.

11.50am How are employers supporting disabled staff during coronavirus?

Research seen exclusively by People Management reveals the crisis could have a long-term effect on reasonable adjustments and flexible working that benefits us all, says Diane Lightfoot.

11.40am Should furloughed workers be treated like returning mothers?

Alison Loveday explains how businesses can effectively manage the re-introduction of workers on the job retention scheme back into the workplace.

8.55am Covid-19 saliva test to be trialled on 5,000 key workers

A potentially “game-changing” spit test for coronavirus is set to be trialled by the government on 5,000 police and army staff amid growing concern about the accuracy of invasive nasal swabs. The two-minute test requires someone to spit in a tube, and is thought to be as accurate, if not more so, than the throat and nose swab that detects if someone has Covid-19. 

Professor Paul Elliott, the Imperial College London scientist who is leading a major government programme on home testing, said the saliva tests would be trialled on 5,000 key workers in the next fortnight. Elliott said “clinical experiences” suggested as many as 30 per cent of nasal swab tests result in a false negative, where people are wrongly told they do not have the virus, and is interested to see how the saliva tests will compare. 

8.45am 50,000 RBS staff to work from home until at least September

More than three-quarters of Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) 65,000 staff will continue working from home until at least the end of September. However, about 400 workers whose jobs include handling sensitive data have been asked to return to offices and call centres next month. Since the lockdown started, approximately 10,000 RBS employees have continued to work in some offices and branches. Approximately 95 per cent of branches have remained open.

RBS said strict physical distancing and others safety measures would be in place to protect staff. “These include limits of two people per lift, thermal imaging and temperature checks at building entrances, and one-way corridors. Hot desking has been temporarily banned, and there will be at least one empty desk in between persons to ensure social distancing,” a memo sent by chief executive Alison Rose states.

8.30am Facebook expects half of staff to work remotely over next five to 10 years

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the firm will start “aggressively opening up remote hiring” and continue extensive remote working even after coronavirus, expecting that about half its workforce would work remotely over the next five to 10 years. The news follows an announcement this week that the company plans to limit offices to 25 per cent capacity, stagger employees on multiple shifts and institute mandatory temperature checks when employees return to some of its workplaces in July.

7.20am Northern Ireland bus builder to cut 125 jobs

Wrightbus, a bus builder in Northern Ireland, is cutting up to 125 staff from its 700-strong workforce as a response to the economic slowdown resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. It will make approximately 35 permanent employees redundant as well as reducing the number of agency staff by 90 "over a phased period". 

Chief executive Buta Atwal said a large part of the workforce had been furloughed but around 100 engineers, designers and sales staff had continued working through the crisis. He added that the aim was still to have around 1,000 people working the firm by the end of 2021 and "we hope to be in a position to re-hire some of those who have been made redundant".

Thursday 21 May

4pm Home Office extends bereavement scheme for families of NHS workers

Family members of migrants working in the health sector who die as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will be entitled to indefinite leave to remain in the UK, the Home Office has said. The entitlement applies to the families of all non-EEA migrants who have worked in the NHS or for an independent health care provider – including social care – and will be applied automatically and free of charge.

Chetal Patel, partner at Bates Wells, said the announcement was far-reaching and covered all roles “irrespective of the skill or salary level, including porters and cleaners”.

“It is good to see that after repeated criticism, the Home Office has made this announcement,” she said, but added more could be done for these workers.

The Home Office had initially come under heavy criticism for excluding lower-paid professions before taking the decision to extend the bereavement scheme.

3.30pm Citigroup staff offered extended bank holiday weekend 

British staff at American banking firm Citigroup will have a four-day-long bank holiday weekend, as the company’s CEO told all 200,000 employees worldwide to take tomorrow (Friday 22 May) off work. 

Around 8,000 people work in the bank’s UK offices in London, Belfast, Derby and Edinburgh. Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael Corbat, said in an all-staff memo that the extra holiday was a mark of gratitude for all his employees had done, and told staff to “take the day to relax and enjoy time with your families, and above all, please keep in mind that, as important as it is to take care of our clients, we need to take care of ourselves”. 

2.55pm Clarks to cut 900 office jobs

Shoe chain Clarks will cut 900 office jobs worldwide as it tries to position itself for business after the coronavirus pandemic. Clarks, which employs 13,000 people globally, said it had to make "some difficult decisions" to re-energise the business, which has seen sales fall in the wake of the crisis. It added jobs will be cut over the next 18 months, and that it would "turn around the firm" to create 200 new jobs.

Clarks shut all of its stores in the UK and Ireland during the coronavirus lockdown, and said it will only reopen them "when it is right and safe to do so". It has already opened stores in countries including China as restrictions have been lifted.

1.20pm Consider mental health impact of reopening after lockdown, businesses warned

An international health and safety body has warned employers to focus on the risks to employee wellbeing, as well as virus transmission, when bringing staff back to places of work. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has told employers they will need to create a “new normal” working culture as they begin to plan for reopening after lockdown, with workplaces likely to see changes in attitudes – as well as safety procedures – that could cause a risk to workers’ health and wellbeing if not managed properly. 

Richard Jones, head of policy and regulatory engagement at the IOSH, emphasised the need for employers to put thorough plans in place before bringing staff back into the workplace. “Any organisations that haven’t already made plans need to develop them and take precautionary action now,” he said. “It’s not just about opening workplaces and expecting workers to return, it must be safe and healthy and create a new normal.”

12.50pm Two-fifths of parents balancing homeschooling with a full-time job, survey finds

Two-fifths of working parents are homeschooling their children during the coronavirus outbreak while holding down a full-time job, a survey has found. The poll of 2,000 working adults with school-aged children, conducted by Canada Life, found 39 per cent were balancing full-time jobs while also homeschooling. And while more than a third (35 per cent) of respondents said they wanted their working patterns to stay the same when lockdown came to an end, 41 per cent admitted the stress of balancing work and schooling was becoming difficult. 

Claire McCartney, resource and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said it was unsurprising that parents were finding it stressful to educate their children while carrying out their work responsibilities, and called on employers to be flexible in their response: “It’s really important that line managers discuss with employees what they both believe can be done to carry on meeting the needs of their job role, while taking care of their child or children.”

11.55am Lessons from Asia in unlocking lockdown

As the UK prepares to ease Covid-19 restrictions, Trent Sutton and Raoul Parekh examine what employers can learn from other countries' experiences.

11.50am How can companies regain trust with furloughed employees?

As staff return to work, some will be angry at having been considered non-essential, others at having to take on extra work, so firms must work hard to rebuild engagement, says Alys O'Neill

11.45am Dyson UK cancels order for staff to return to work after employees refuse

Engineering firm Dyson has cancelled plans to have employees return to the office this week after staff refused to return to workplaces, according to a report by the Guardian. Sources told the newspaper that Dyson told staff they should start coming back into the office, in rotating shift patterns, from Monday (18 May), but the proposals were shot down by employees concerned about returning to work too soon. The company reversed its decision in a subsequent email the next day. 

The proposal would have meant some staff having to travel to Dyson's factories in Hullavington and Malmesbury, even if they were able to work from home. This would have gone against current government guidelines on safe workplace practices, which highlight that employers should ensure staff work from home where possible. 

10.20am Four in five workers in accommodation and food services have been furloughed

Almost four in five (78 per cent) workers in accommodation and food services have been furloughed, according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics. The survey looked at the impact of the coronavirus on the UK economy, finding a majority of people working in the accommodation and food services industry were furloughed between 20 April and 3 May, and that this was the highest proportion of any sector in the economy. The survey also suggested that a fifth (20 per cent) of businesses temporarily closed or paused trading during this period, while 6 per cent said they had resumed trading in the last two weeks. 

10am More than 400 people furloughed by Hampshire County Council during pandemic

Hundreds of workers at Hampshire County Council have been placed on furlough since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by the Basingstoke Gazette. The local newspaper revealed the council has furloughed 410 workers, approximately 3 per cent of the total 12,937 total staff members employed by the council. 

This is despite the fact that, when the job retention scheme was first announced, the government said it did not envisage public sector employees would be furloughed as they believed most employers in this sector would continue to offer essential services.

9.45am EasyJet to resume flights in June 

Airline easyJet has announced the restart of a “small number” of routes when customer demand increases. Initial flights will not serve food but easyJet said hand wipes would be readily available. Additionally, aircrafts would be subject to “enhanced cleaning and disinfection” and passengers and cabin crew will be told to wear face masks. The new airline rules were drawn up according to government advice and in consultation with the European Aviation Safety Agency, which recommends the use of face masks, social distancing (where possible) and frequent hand washing.

9.25am More than 2,500 council staff furloughed across Northern Ireland

More than 2,500 staff across Northern Ireland's 11 councils have now been furloughed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Stormont minister Deirdre Hargey has confirmed. Speaking at the Northern Ireland Executive's daily briefing yesterday (20 May), Hargey acknowledged local authorities have used the government scheme because of extreme funding pressures and said that the Executive is providing £20.3m in support to keep them afloat. 

However, Hargey stressed the importance of protecting jobs, both now and "into the recovery period", and said furloughing staff at local authorities would be kept "under close observation". She added a review of furloughing such workers would be expected in August. 

8.45am Hundreds of British Airways in Wales jobs under threat

Hundreds of British Airways (BA) jobs in south Wales are under threat because of a collapse in passenger numbers because of Covid-19 and subsequent restrictions on travel. BA had said 1,000 jobs were at risk at its three sites in Wales, but Welsh economy minister Ken Skates clarified that 399 redundancies were being considered. He added that he had told BA the number of jobs at risk "needs to be reduced". 

The news comes as BA warned earlier this month that it needed to cut 12,000 roles in total across the business from its 42,000-strong workforce as a result of the crisis.

8.45am 40,000 UK workers still needed to harvest fruit and veg

Farming industry representatives have said they still needed to recruit – and retain – as many as 40,000 British residents to harvest fruit and vegetables this summer and autumn. There are deep concerns that even if enough workers initially come forward, many will quit as the lockdown eases and they are able to return to their usual employment. A recruitment campaign has been launched on government and industry portal Pick For Britain. ITV and Waitrose announced a campaign to support the drive, which will include adverts and a film following new recruits. About 70,000 workers are needed in total to bring in the British harvest over the spring, summer and autumn.

8.30am NHS and care staff to get antibody tests from next week

NHS and social care staff will be given antibody tests revealing whether they have had coronavirus from next week, ministers are to announce today. Hundreds of thousands of workers will be offered access to the blood tests, which must be processed in laboratories. However, experts warned of the risk of creating a false sense of security for those with positive antibody test results, as they offer no guarantee of immunity. “The new test’s arrival should not simply be seen as a green light to reduce PPE and other protections for NHS staff who test positive,” Dr Claudia Paoloni, president of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, told the Guardian.

Initially, priority will be given to frontline hospital personnel working most closely with Covid patients, such as intensive care staff, those working on coronavirus wards and doctors and nurses in A&E units. 

7.40am Mastercard staff can work from home until they 'feel comfortable' returning to office

Mastercard staff can continue working from home until they "feel comfortable" returning to offices amid the pandemic. The credit card company, which employs about 20,000 people globally and has offices in the UK, said a "large percentage" of their workforce is now working from home, despite offices remaining open. 

A spokesperson for Mastercard said: "At the end of the day, our employees will make the decision on when they feel comfortable returning to an office. They know their personal circumstances and needs." 

Wednesday 20 May

5.35pm Redeployed NHS staff may return to previous roles in coming weeks 

NHS England’s medical director Professor Stephen Powis has said regular healthcare services curtailed to help manage the coronavirus crisis will resume over the next few weeks and months, adding that prioritising Covid-19 throughout April was the “right thing to do”. Asked at today’s daily briefing when NHS staff redeployed from their usual roles to support areas of the health service under increased pressure due to Covid-19 would return to normal, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said capacity for more regular services would increase as the UK exits the peak of the virus. 

4.50pm Half a million businesses at risk of folding, survey shows

More than 500,000 businesses are at high risk of entering insolvency, according to a business distress tracker compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). Almost one in 10 retail organisations (9 per cent) say they cannot survive another month of lockdown and are facing collapse, according to the tracker which surveys 500 businesses in a range of sectors across the UK.

However, 41 per cent of respondents reported a positive outlook for the next 12 months, suggesting some firms have already weathered the lowest point of the Covid-19 crisis. Pablo Shah, senior economist at Cebr said that while present conditions remain “challenging to the extreme, the survey results suggest that we could perhaps be starting to see some break in the clouds”.

1.10pm Could the UK introduce the legal right to work from home?

Germany recently announced that it will introduce laws giving its citizens the legal right to work from home. In making this move, Germany will be following in Finland’s footsteps, which introduced a new Working Hours Act in January 2020. One of the key amendments of this is that work performed at home and so-called distance work now falls within the scope of the Act.

Merrill April and Pooja Dasgupta from law firm CM Murray examine whether the UK could follow suit in taking a more ‘employee friendly’ approach to flexible working. 

11.15am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Mental Health Matters

Claire Hall, HR and L&D manager at charity Mental Health Matters, tells People Management how ensuring staff still take breaks at home and offering internal wellbeing webinars have been key to coping with the increased demand on their services brought on by the crisis. 

8.45am Greencore prepares to reopen site as workers tire of homemade lunches

Having furloughed about a third of its 11,500 staff and closed three production sites, sandwich maker Greencore is preparing to reopen one of these sites. Sales of its fresh meals, which also include sushi and salads, initially dropped 70 per cent but have recovered to 40 per cent of pre-coronavirus levels as lockdown rules were eased and consumers grew weary of homemade lunches, according to the company’s research. The survey of 7,000 consumers found the average ‘lunch enjoyment score’ currently stands at 5.5 out of 10, after a steady decline from 6.2 five weeks ago.

8.30am Nearly half of FTSE 100 firms cut or defer dividends

UK firms have cut or deferred £30bn in dividend payments to weather the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis, according to research by AJ Bell. Almost half (46) of the UK’s FTSE 100 firms have now either reduced, deferred, suspended or cancelled cash returns to shareholders. The UK-listed companies that have made the biggest cuts, suspensions or deferrals include HSBC at £5bn and BT at £3.3bn. But 140 companies have committed to maintaining dividends, with some of these, such as Tesco, proving controversial: the grocer was forced to defend the decision to pay a £635m dividend while at the same time accepting a similar-sized tax break as part of the government’s coronavirus support package.

“While some investors might be hoping the end is in sight for these cuts, they could actually increase now the government has brought in investors,” Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at AJ Bell, told the Guardian.

8am Rolls-Royce to cut 9,000 jobs amid crisis

Rolls-Royce has announced it will cut 9,000 jobs worldwide and warned it will take "several years" for the airline industry to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The firm, which makes engines for planes, said the losses would mainly affect its civil aerospace division, but chief executive Warren East told Radio 4's Today programme the company had not yet decided "exactly" where the job losses would be because they would have to consult with unions.

But he said: "It's fair to say that of our civil aerospace business, approximately two-thirds of the total employees are in the UK at the moment and that's probably a good first proxy."

Tuesday 19 May

5.10pm Government urges furloughed workers to pick fruit

Environmental secretary George Eustice has said the UK only has “around a third” of the number of migrant workers who normally travel from Europe to help harvest crops such as salad and strawberries. Speaking at today’s government briefing, Eustice said that while small numbers may still arrive, “this year we will need to rely on British workers to lend a hand to help bring that harvest home”.

He added that the government has been working with industry to develop a plan to support workers taking second jobs – particularly those who are furloughed – and had created a website to help match people looking for seasonal work locally. “We believe those that are furloughed may be getting to the point that they want to lend a hand and play their part… if they do feel that way I would urge them to visit that website and to look at the opportunities that are there,” said Eustice.

The site,, was launched by the Prince of Wales earlier today.

3.10pm Two in five UK companies are changing their employee benefit programmes due to Covid-19

Two in five (42 per cent) of UK companies have made, or are planning to make, significant changes to their benefit programmes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson. The survey of 177 employers found the benefits most likely to be enhanced were: wellbeing programmes (60 per cent); mental health and stress management services (58 per cent); annual leave policies (26 per cent); and voluntary benefits (23 per cent). 

Kevin Newman, managing director of Willis Towers Watson’s UK Health and Benefits business, said the crisis will prompt changes in employee benefit programmes for many companies, and some will be forced to "get better value from their benefits", both from a cost and communications perspective. He added: "But most companies at some point are likely to look at what they currently provide employees and ask, ‘are these benefits still relevant and is the balance still right for the new working environment?’"

12.35pm Employers able to recover statutory sick pay this month, government says

Employers will be able to recover statutory sick payments made to staff during the coronavirus pandemic at the end of this month, the government has announced. The coronavirus statutory sick pay rebate scheme, which was announced during the budget in March as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the crisis, is set to launch on 26 May. The scheme will allow employers with fewer than 250 employees to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related statutory sick pay (SSP). 

Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at Peninsula, said the new scheme, alongside the furlough scheme, offered more assistance to employers that had seen staff take sick leave as a direct or indirect result of coronavirus. "It remains to be seen if eligibility for reclaiming SSP will be broadened to include larger companies, and it is likely any decisions in this manner will come as we move through the crisis,” she said. 

12.15pm Wagamama to reopen restaurants for home delivery

Wagamama is to reopen dozens of its restaurants across the UK to expand its home delivery service. The Japanese-inspired restaurant chain, which shut its doors amid the pandemic, launched a trial of the service at five of its delivery kitchens in London and Leeds earlier this month. 

The company now says it will reopen 24 more sites on Thursday (21 May) with a further 20 next week, expanding to 67 kitchens in operation by the end of June. Wagamama said it has devised a schedule of reopening new sites that will allow staff to slowly return to delivery-only work at their own discretion. Chief executive Emma Woods said: “The next logical step for us is to open additional sites throughout the UK; this will still very much form a test and learn approach for the business.”

11.40am The legalities of preparing for work after lockdown

With a number of phases set out in the government’s ‘plan to rebuild’, there is growing pressure to restart the economy, safely, as soon as possible. Although numerous guidelines have been revealed based on the type of workplace, businesses should make sure they have a robust plan in place. Julian Cox explains the steps employers should take before bringing employees back into the workplace.

11.30am How one HR consultancy has adapted to working through Covid-19

Elva Ainsworth, CEO of Talent Innovations, explains how her organisation has coped with the unprecedented demands of working during the coronavirus crisis. From the whole team becoming infected, to reduced client demand and the need to work remotely, the challenges have been numerous and she says she will never be the same again. 

11am City workers in no rush to go back to the office

More than half of financial workers surveyed by Deutsche Bank said they were considering working from home between one and three days a week even after the coronavirus pandemic has receded. The findings highlight a trend of workers becoming happier to work from home the longer lockdown measures are in place. Almost three in five (57 per cent) of the 450 global financial professionals surveyed said they would work from home at least part time after the crisis died down, up from just 36 per cent in April. Some respondents reported they would spend four or five days working from home in the future, while the proportion of respondents who said they would work from home only when necessary after the crisis dropped from 47 per cent to 31 per cent last month. 

9.35am Layoffs continue at Uber 

Ride-hailing app Uber announced today it would cut a further 3,000 jobs, two weeks after it said 3,700 jobs would be lost as a result of travel being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. This means more than a quarter of the company’s 22,000-strong global workforce will be cut overall. Uber is also closing 45 offices and is reconsidering its ventures in self-driving cars and freight services. Drivers are not considered employees by Uber, so are not included in the layoffs.

9.05am 6,000 jobs at risk at Casual Dining Group

The owner of Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas is preparing to bring in administrators, potentially putting 6,000 jobs at risk. Casual Dining Group (CDG), which runs about 250 restaurants, yesterday (18 May) filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators. A spokesperson for CDG said: “As is widely acknowledged, this is an unprecedented situation for our industry and, like many other companies across the UK, the directors of Casual Dining Group are working closely with our advisers as we consider our next steps.”

9am Ovo Energy to cut 2,600 jobs, partly down to lockdown restrictions

Ovo Energy is to cut 2,600 jobs and close offices in central Glasgow's Waterloo Street, Selkirk and Reading. It had intended to reduce staff as it automated customer service, but said that process was being brought forward as a result of lockdown. Staff to be laid off include about 1,000 customer care call centre employees and nearly as many meter readers. The increased deployment of smart meters is removing the need for people to visit homes, the business said. Because of the lockdown, no such visits have taken place since March.

8.45am Young people’s pay will be affected for years by Covid-19 crisis, report warns

Young people are most likely to have lost work or seen their income drop because of the pandemic, a report by the Resolution Foundation suggests. More than one in three 18 to 24-year-olds is earning less than before the outbreak, it said, with the pay of younger workers likely to be affected for years. Older staff may end up involuntarily retired, it stated. Around a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds have been furloughed, and 9 per cent have lost their jobs altogether – the highest figure of any age group. Those aged 35 to 44 were the least likely to have been furloughed or lost their jobs, with around 15 per cent experiencing this since the outbreak began.

8.30am Huge rise in unemployment benefit claimants

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the UK soared last month (the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown). The claimant count in April went up by 856,500 to 2.1 million, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Separate ONS figures showed UK unemployment rose by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the three months to March. With these figures only covering the first week of lockdown, the total is likely to worsen sharply in the coming months. The total number of weekly hours worked also showed its largest annual decrease in 10 years. In the final week of March, the total number of hours worked was about 25 per cent fewer than in other weeks within the quarter.

Monday 18 May

5.30pm Electric bikes could ‘help people return to work'

Electric bikes could offer workers a way for staff to safely return to the workplace during coronavirus, a study has found. The research from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions said the UK government hadn’t yet realised the strategic importance of e-bikes (push bikes with electric motors to assist with pedalling). The greatest impact would be in areas with poor public transport because a wider range of people would be able to use e-bikes, it said. The paper said e-bikes can be particularly effective in economically deprived areas where people can’t afford cars, but where bus services are poor.

5.20pm Self-employed grant claims top two million

More than two million self-employed people have applied to the government’s coronavirus Self Employed Income Support Scheme, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced. The value of the claims made so far is £6bn. HMRC has invited 3.5 million people to apply for the scheme by sending them notices. According to the latest figures given by the chancellor, more than half of them have put in claims.

3.20pm Nearly a third of lower-paid employees have been furloughed or made redundant

Research from think tank the Resolution Foundation has found that nearly a third of lower-paid workers – those in the lowest-earning 20 per cent of UK employees – have been either furloughed, made redundant or had their hours reduced as a result of the economic impact of coronavirus. This compares with just one in 10 of the highest 20 per cent of earners before the outbreak. The research also found atypical workers – such as those on variable hours – were more likely to be furloughed or experience job or hours loss than those on regular hours.

“Britain’s lowest-paid workers and those with the most insecure work are bearing the brunt of Britain’s economic crisis,” said Hannah Slaughter, economist at the Resolution Foundation. “[We] need to see new measures – including job guarantees for young people – to tackle the high levels of joblessness that are likely to be with us long after the pandemic has subsided.”

3pm Investing in firms with society-minded governance has paid during the crisis, study finds

Investing in companies with better records on social issues and good governance pays, according to research, with those investments having proved more financially resilient during the coronavirus market crash. Investment funds tracking the performance of companies with better ratings on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues lost less money than those including worse performers in 94 per cent of cases during the crisis, according to analysis by BlackRock. The analysis suggested firms with better customer relations and better workforce management for example, did better in the turmoil, as did those whose boards were judged to be more effective and independent.

2.45pm All care home staff in Scotland to be tested regularly for Covid-19

Coronavirus testing in Scotland has been expanded to cover all care home workers and anyone over the age of five who present symptoms. Speaking at the Scottish government's daily press briefing today, health secretary Jeane Freeman said testing would be made available to all care home workers – regardless of whether a case has been reported in the home they work or if the individual has symptoms – and this testing will be done on a "repeating basis" for it to be effective. 

It follows the announcement on 15 May by UK health secretary Matt Hancock that every care home worker and resident in England will be tested in the coming weeks.

1.15pm Half of private sector employers planning Covid-19 pay freezes, research finds

More than half of private sector employers are preparing to freeze pay over the next year because of the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, a poll of organisations has found. The CIPD’s latest labour market outlook (LMO), which surveyed more than 2,000 employers, found a third (33 per cent) plan to freeze employee pay as a result of the virus. This increased to 51 per cent among private sector employers.

The latest LMO also found hiring intentions were at their lowest levels since the survey began in 2005. Just two in five employers (40 per cent) reported plans to recruit staff in the three months to July 2020, compared to 44 per cent that said they had implemented recruitment freezes.

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market economist at the CIPD, said workers needed to “brace themselves for pay freezes or even pay cuts” as employers moved to protect jobs. “It seems that the pain is being directed towards pay and recruitment rather than job losses,” he said.

11.50am How to create a coronavirus risk assessment

Following the government's latest advice on a staggered return to work, employers wishing to make the workplace safe for returning employees must conduct a risk assessment, the new guidelines stipulate. Prime minister Boris Johnson assured that “employers will not be allowed to get away with forcing people to work in conditions that are not Covid-secure”.

An additional instruction that may cause some organisations concern is the sharing and publishing of these results, both with the workforce and online for the general public (if your business has more than 50 workers). But what needs to be included in the risk assessment, and where do you start? 

11.40am Creating a Covid-19 secure workplace

As the UK starts to come out of lockdown, Nick Wilson outlines the health and safety matters employers should bear in mind.

10am Filipino ambassador hits back at high death rate among UK health and care workers 

The Philippines’ UK ambassador, Antonio Lagdameo, has called for staff to be ‘properly protected’ after figures revealed the death rate among Filipinos was the highest across NHS and care.

According to the Metro, of the 173 confirmed coronavirus deaths of frontline health workers, 13 per cent were of Filipino heritage. While a “lack of reliable data'' makes it difficult to prove definitively, official figures indicated that 18,500 Filipinos worked for the NHS, amounting to 1.5 per cent of its 1.2 million-strong workforce. 

9.30am Pandemic prompts firms to slash entry-level jobs by a quarter

School leavers and graduates trying to enter Britain’s labour market will “struggle to find employment” according to Institute of Student Employers (ISE) research. 

The report found all types of entry-level roles have been reduced this year by 23 per cent, with the jobs market forecast to shrink further, as 15 per cent of employers expect to scale back recruitment in 2021. Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the ISE, said: “Some employers are backing graduates over non-graduates and others have found it too difficult to start new apprenticeships, which means that school leavers will be among the hardest hit by the crisis.”

9am Network Rail chairman says employers have ‘vital role’ preventing overcrowding on public transport 

As people in England were encouraged back to work, train firms have ramped up services and introduced security guards with crowd management training at some stations, as rail bosses raise concerns about maintaining social distancing. Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, told the BBC that employers had a “vital role to play” because they can “strongly influence people’s behaviour”. “You wouldn't set out for work if someone told you not to come," he said.

Friday 15 May

1.45pm Ryanair to cut additional 250 jobs 

Ryanair has announced it has cut another 250 support team workers across its offices in the UK, Ireland, Spain and Poland amid the collapse in demand for flights due to the pandemic. This move to cut jobs is in addition to the expected loss of 3,000 pilot and cabin crew jobs that Ryanair announced at the beginning of the month (1 May). 

As part of today's announcement, Darrell Hughes, Ryanair's people director, said the airline expects to open offices from June, but the organisation will not need the same number of support team workers. Hughes added: "These job losses were communicated to individual team members this week, and they will not be returning to work in our Dublin, Stansted, Madrid or Wroclaw offices when they reopen on 1 June."

1.40pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …Virgin Media

Telecoms giant Virgin Media has focused heavily on diversity and inclusion as well as staff wellbeing and redeploying vulnerable employees. People Management spoke to the organisation’s inclusion lead, Vic Whitehouse, about the coronavirus crisis’ impact on the organisation’s HR team and its 12,000 employees. 

1.30pm Furloughed workers drinking the most during lockdown, study reveals

More than a third of furloughed workers are now drinking more alcohol than they used to, research has found, as employers are urged to ensure temporarily laid off staff don’t become disconnected.

According to the poll by the charity Drinkaware, 36 per cent of furloughed workers have increased their alcohol consumption since the UK went into lockdown, compared to a nationwide average of 24 per cent. The number of people working from home reporting increased consumption was also found to be higher than the UK average (26 per cent), although not as dramatically as among furloughed workers.

10.15am Canary Wharf prepares for return to work

London’s Canary Wharf has drawn up detailed plans to bring bankers, accountants and lawyers back to the financial district as the pandemic eases, according to the Financial Times. Planned measures include introducing one-way routes, daily deep cleaning, limiting lift capacity to four people, removing soft furnishings, doors being left open to remove the need to touch any surfaces, and hand sanitiser stations being placed outside office entrances. The London estate is issuing new guidance to tenants this week. It has remained open throughout the pandemic, with about 3,000 workers attending every day, mainly to oversee the back end of operations in IT and other key infrastructure.

10am BA to cut jobs despite furlough extension 

British Airways will press ahead with cutbacks that could result in 12,000 job losses, Willie Walsh, the chief executive of its parent company has said. In a letter to the chair of the transport committee Huw Merriman, Walsh said the government’s furlough scheme would not compensate for “the reality of a structurally changed airline industry in a severely weakened global economy”. Walsh has since said the furlough extension until October only bought “a few extra days”.

9.10am Working from home will continue unless public transport is changed, says study 

Returning to offices while maintaining social distancing will require continued working from home and substantial changes to commuting patterns, according to research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). The report found that while fewer than one in six people (14 per cent) use public transport to get to work across the UK, this rises to half (49 per cent) living in London. In the capital city, younger workers are most reliant on public transport with 63 per cent of people aged 16-24 using it to get to work, compared to 40 per cent of those aged 55 and over.

Alex Davenport, a research economist at IFS, said returning to work while maintaining social distancing will be difficult for those commuting using public transport, and having some continue to work from home will be important. Davenport said: "Re-opening the hospitality sector will create a particular challenge as many workers in this sector cannot work from home and were relatively heavy users of public transport to get to work.” 

8.40am TfL secures emergency £1.6bn bailout to pay staff and keep services running

Transport for London (TfL) has secured £1.6bn in emergency funding to keep the London underground and bus services running until September. Under the bailout's terms, London mayor Sadiq Khan is expected to restore a full tube service as soon as possible to allow workers access to transport to work. London's transport commissioner Mike Brown welcomed the emergency funding, but said "enormous challenges remain, including agreeing longer term sustainable funding for transport in the capital".

In April, Khan warned TfL would run out of money to keep running and pay staff unless the government offered it support as income from fares had plummeted during the lockdown. Khan warned services would be cut "because we can't pay people" and admitted that TfL's cash reserves would only last a matter of weeks.

8.35am Government 'opens door for safe return in June' for football if staff are kept safe

The government says it is "opening the door" for the return of professional football in England so long as staff, players and fans are kept safe while games start. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said yesterday (14 May) that the Football Association, Premier League and English Football League had "progressed plans" for the sport to resume in June.

"We all agreed that we will only go ahead if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first," said Dowden. The next meeting of Premier League clubs to discuss the next steps will take place on Monday (18 May), and players may return to initial group training under social distancing protocols the same day.

Thursday 14 May

5.30pm Government urges people not to use public transport

The transport secretary has said it is people’s “civic duty to avoid public transport if at all possible”. Speaking during today’s daily briefing, Grant Shapps reiterated that even when public transport networks were back to running at 100 per cent, there would only be enough room for one-tenth of the pre-coronavirus capacity once social distancing is taken into account.

Earlier this week employers were urged to consider their workforce’s commute before making the decision to ask them to return to the workplace if they were unable to work from home, after images emerged of overcrowded trains and buses.

2.45pm Local council in NI considers plan to furlough over half its staff

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council (ANBC) will consider a plan to furlough more than half its 670-strong workforce, according to a report by BBC News NI. The broadcaster said a proposal to furlough 375 full-time and casual ANBC employees is set to be discussed in a council meeting tonight (14 May)

Earlier this month, Derry City and Strabane District Council furloughed around 200 staff after it estimated the authority faced a financial loss of up to £6.5m this year as a result of coronavirus.

1.30pm Latest furlough and holiday pay guidance – what has it cleared up?

The government has clarified issues relating to furlough and holiday pay in guidance published yesterday (13 May) by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. While it was confirmed last month that furloughed workers could take annual leave without breaking furlough, many questions remained regarding whether an employer could require staff to take holiday, and the status of temporary and agency staff was also still unclear.

People Management unpacks new government guidelines, including on agency workers, obliging temporarily laid off staff to take annual leave and bank holidays.

12.50pm Frontline workers less able to raise safety concerns, research shows

Frontline workers feel far less able to voice concerns over health and safety than office-based workers, new research has revealed as people begin to return to work following recent government guidance. The research, conducted by Nottingham Business School in partnership with the CIPD, found that people in operational roles, including manufacturing and construction, were less likely to have access to channels allowing them to raise issues or discuss concerns.

The report said these frontline workers were both more likely to be returning to roles where social distancing was difficult, while also the least likely to speak out about health and safety concerns. 

12.40pm 10 lessons in HR decision-making from the Covid-19 crisis

As HR moves towards greater adoption of evidence-based practice, Rob Briner looks at what it can learn from how politicians are currently using scientific advice.

12.30pm What does the government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy mean for employers?

Catherine Taylor and Mel Lane explain how the gradual easing of lockdown measures will affect firms, including social distancing and risk assessments.  

9am Self-employed income scheme receives over 100,000 claims in first four hours

The self-employed income protection scheme, launched yesterday (13 May) received more than 110,000 claims in its first four hours of operation, the Treasury has said. By midday HMRC had received 110,102 claims for grants worth 80 per cent of average salaries, or £2,500 a month, after the tax authority sent notices to 3.5 million of the 5.2 million self-employed people it believes are eligible.

8.45am Government launches five sector-specific coronavirus taskforces

The government has unveiled five new taskforces devoted to vulnerable sectors of the economy unable to reopen until at least July. They will liaise with unions and industry leaders to see how soon each sector can safely recommence business. The sectors are: pubs and restaurants; non-essential shops; recreation and leisure; places of worship; and international air travel.

8.30am Uber and Addison Lee to install protective screens

Addison Lee will fit perspex partition screens between drivers and passengers across its 4,000 vehicles next week, and Uber is installing partitions in 400 cars in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham as part of an initial pilot. Both firms are also distributing free protective equipment to drivers. 

On Wednesday (13 May), Transport for London (TfL) updated its guidance for taxi and private hire vehicle firms, advising firms to have passengers sitting in the back seats of cars and drivers to carry a bottle of hand sanitiser gel of at least 60 per cent alcohol. The BBC reported multiple taxi firms in the UK are seeking clarification from the government and would prefer regulation to advice.

Wednesday 13 May

6.15pm Government receives nearly 800 reports of furlough fraud

The government has received nearly 800 online reports of employees being asked to work despite being put on leave through its coronavirus job retention scheme. 

An HMRC spokesperson told the Guardian that the government would assess each report and would help put right “a genuine mistake”, adding: “We won’t hesitate to take criminal action against the most serious cases.”

5pm Construction sites can apply to work extended hours

Construction sites can apply to stay open for extended hours in a bid to boost the economy as England starts to come out of lockdown.

Speaking at the daily briefing today, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said sites would be able to work “more flexible hours where appropriate”, with councils expected to authorise sites in residential areas to be allowed to keep working until 9pm Monday to Friday unless there is a “compelling reason” not to.

2.20pm Handling workplace disputes during coronavirus

As the likelihood of a coming downturn continues to increase, HR professionals should expect to see rising numbers of employment claims stemming from the critical decisions being made around furloughing, redundancies, reassignment, promotions, remuneration and more. 

Employers need to think carefully about how they manage the heightened levels of legal and reputational risk associated with this predicted rise in complex employment claims, say Ed Cotton and Peter Barrett. 

2.15pm Employers urged to consider commutes when deciding whether to reopen

Organisations have been urged to consider how their employees commute to work when deciding to reopen workplaces, as images emerge of workers packed on to tubes and buses.

With the government's more relaxed lockdown rules coming into effect in England this morning (13 May), many workers unable to work from home are starting to come back into their workplaces. Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser at the CIPD said any decision about whether workers should return to work should factor in each individual’s commute and ability to arrive at work safely, adding “many employees are likely to have genuine concerns about using public transport, especially as government advice says to avoid it”. 

12.45pm HR must prepare for increased workloads and responsibility as furlough scheme is extended, say experts

The UK’s job retention scheme has been extended to October, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced, with additional flexibility and employer contributions to be expected in future changes to the system. He also said that, from August, the system would allow for greater flexibility to support the transition back to work, and furloughed employees could be brought back to work on a part-time basis. 

Andy Davies, senior vice president at MHR, warned there were “more challenges and increased workload around the corner” for people professionals. He said HR should prepare to audit all future decisions on the furlough scheme, including who returns to work and whether it is on a full-time or part-time basis. 

“For HR, what they need to be looking at is the selection criteria of those who were furloughed and the mechanisms they used to record all that data,” Davies said. “It’s really important to be transparent at this stage because, at some point, HR might be called to audit, and you need to be prepared to show the government who was on furlough and when.”

11.35am Testing programme criticised for taking volunteering ‘too far’

A campaign from high street pharmacy Boots to recruit up to 1,000 people to carry out Covid-19 testing has attracted criticism from unions, for taking “the notion of volunteering way too far”. 

Boots are seeking testers to work for a minimum of 32 hours per week, as the government aims to reach a target of testing 200,000 people for coronavirus per day. Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, said "unless Boots is offering its services to the government for free, it's difficult to understand why it's expecting anyone to do such important work for zero pence”. 

11.20am Teaching union advises members not to ‘engage’ in plans to reopen schools

The National Education Union, the UK’s largest teachers union, has advised its members not to “engage” with the government’s plans to begin reopening schools from 1 June. 

The union questioned government guidance that stated teachers did not need to wear PPE to stay safe in schools, and said scientific backing was needed for claims that social distancing wouldn’t necessarily need to be adhered to. Patrick Roach, general secretary of teachers’ union NASUWT, is also reported to have told membership there was “no obligation on any schools to extend their opening arrangements”. 

11.10am Manufacturing sectors oppose government’s 14-day overseas traveller quarantine 

The government is facing opposition from all five key manufacturing sectors, which claim the 14-day quarantine of overseas travellers could disrupt production, leading to supply shortages and job losses. 

The automotive, aviation, chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries have all warned that exemptions will be necessary to ensure the smooth operation of factories, which depend on specialist ‘fly in, fly out’ engineers to service production lines. Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Broken machinery could lead to unpredictable delays in production. If exemptions are not made this could quite quickly have the potential to cause real issues for food and drink supply.” 

9.30am Cruise firm Carnival to cut 450 jobs

Carnival, which operates the P&O and Cunard lines, will let go 450 of its 1,600-strong Southampton workforce. Additionally, workers who retain their jobs will be asked to accept a 20 per cent pay cut until November. 

Carnival would not confirm the number of planned redundancies, but assured they were necessary to “ensure the future sustainability” of the business. Originally planning to resume voyages in mid-May, the cruise firm has not yet announced when its ships will sail, but confirmed it is planning a phased return with added safety measures on board. 

9.15am British retailers fear closures and job losses as lockdown continues 

UK retailers have warned of shop closures and job losses across the country as consumer spending in shops dropped to record lows in April, but online spending continues to boom. 

After Boris Johnson revealed plans to keep most shops closed until at least June, the figures – from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) – showed spending on items other than food (fashion, furniture etc) had dropped by more than a third over the past three months. 

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said Monday’s recovery strategy was an “opportunity missed” to provide an outline of how and when shops will be able to reopen.

9.00am Coronavirus causes cash-strapped Tui to cut 8,000 jobs

Travel firm Tui has suggested it will cut 8,000 jobs in a bid to reduce costs by 30 per cent. Coronavirus has impacted its turnover and earnings, which the firm says will be significantly lower in the current financial year. 

"We are targeting to permanently reduce our overhead cost base by 30 per cent across the entire group. This will have an impact on potentially 8,000 roles globally that will either not be recruited or reduced," Tui said in a statement.

8.45am Self-employed grant scheme opens to applications

Self-employed individuals can apply for the government’s self-employed income support scheme from today. The scheme is designed to match the support being given to furloughed employees, and grants will be calculated as 80 per cent of average monthly profit over a period of up to three years. The government said the money will be paid into the accounts of eligible people six days after applying. The maximum payment will be £7,500, intended to cover March, April and May.

8.30am Some childminders can reopen, government says

Childminders in England can reopen from today if they are caring for children from the same household, the government announced late on Tuesday (12 May). The move follows confusion about when childminders could reopen. "Childminders have been told three different things about plans to reopen in a matter of days," said Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance. Separate documents issued by the government suggested both 13 May and 1 June as dates for when they could recommence work as part of the government’s return to work plan.

8.15am Twitter staff told they can work from home ‘forever’

Twitter will allow its employees to work from home “forever” if they wish to. A spokesperson from Twitter confirmed the decision to the Guardian, saying the company was “one of the first companies to go to a work-from-home model” because of Covid-19: “The past few months have proven we can make that work. So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.”

Twitter has suspended almost all employee business travel and all of its in-person events until 2021. It is also giving employees increased allowances to buy home office supplies including desks and desk chairs.

Tuesday 12 May

4.40pm Workers are not advised to wear PPE to protect against coronavirus

Cleaning and social distancing in the workplace are the best ways to manage the risk of the spread of coronavirus, Alok Sharma, the secretary of state for business, said in parliament today.

In a statement announcing today’s guidance on returning to work, Sharma said: “Based on the scientific evidence, the use of PPE in the workplace is not recommended by the government [to protect against coronavirus] except in clinical settings and a handful of other roles stipulated by public health England.” He added that workers using protective equipment for non-Covid reasons should continue to do so.

Employees are welcome to wear a non-medical cloth face covering – in line with recently announced requirements to wear simple face coverings when traveling on public transport – but this is not required by law in the workplace.

4pm Only 10 per cent of office space in use

Office and retail landlord Land Securities has said less than 10 per cent of its office sites are being used as people work from home. Many companies are struggling to pay the rent, it said, with 63 per cent collected within 10 days in March and early April compared with 94 per cent a year ago.

1.30pm Return to work guidance – how are different sectors being asked to proceed?

The government has published its long-awaited guidance for employers looking to bring employees back into the workplace. The eight papers – which each cover a specific sector – said most workers did not need additional protective equipment, instead stressing the importance of carrying out Covid-19 risk assessments, robust cleaning processes and redesigning workplaces to ensure employees stayed two metres apart where possible

People Managementdelves into the detail of the government’s industry-specific guidelines, breaking down the stipulations employers need to be aware of.

12.40pm Furlough scheme to be extended until October

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the government’s job retention scheme will be extended a further four months, until the end of October 2020. Speaking before the House of Commons, Sunak said the scheme would be extended and made more flexible from August, to allow workers to come back to work part time, while claiming furlough payments for the hours they were still not working. 

The chancellor also said the government would be asking employers to start sharing with the government the costs of paying people’s salaries, but assured workers they would continue to be eligible to receive the same remuneration levels.  

12.15pm Lower-paid male workers most at risk of Covid-19 fatality, ONS data shows

Men in lower-paid jobs are most at risk of dying from Covid-19, provisional data from the Office for National Statistics has suggested. The data, which shows the number and rate of deaths involving Covid-19 broken down by occupation, found that men in ‘low-skilled, elementary occupations’ were more than twice as likely as those in directorial or managerial positions to have died from contracting coronavirus.

The data covered deaths registered in England and Wales between 9 March and 20 April for people aged 20 to 64. According to the data, only 12 HR professionals had died from contracting Covid-19 in this period. 

11.40am Employers must give HR more space for staff wellbeing

Unless organisations allocate proper time for workplace wellbeing it will not be effective, which could have particularly negative effects during the current crisis, says Chris Pinner.

11.30am Handling employee data subject access requests during Covid-19

The current lockdown adds an extra level of complexity to staff requests for their personal information. Jane Bowen explains how HR should deal with them.

11.20am Subway to start phased reopening of stores

Sandwich chain Subway has today started a phased reopening of 600 of its 2,600 stores across the UK and Ireland. The stores will only be open for takeaway and delivery. 

Subway said each outlet has been fitted with new operational and social distancing safety measures to protect customers, third-party delivery and supplier drivers and staff. The chain said these measures have been tested in the small number of stores that have remained open to support and serve key workers and hospital staff.

9.15am P&O Ferries plans to make 1,100 staff redundant 

P&O Ferries has announced plans to make 1,100 of employees redundant because of a downturn in business and reduced number of vessels as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The ferry operator, which is based in Dover, Kent, said "right sizing" the company was a necessary step to create a viable and sustainable business for the future.

P&O Ferries is now planning to make 614 staff on the Dover to Calais line redundant, with a further 122 job losses on the lines between Hull and Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. The remainder are officers and shore-side staff on the same routes. 

8.45am Return to work plans boost cycling uptake

The boom in cycling already seen since the start of lockdown appears set to accelerate following the government encouraging people to cycle to work as part of the weekend's announcement around easing restrictions. Shares in Halfords jumped 17 per cent on Monday (11 May). Meanwhile, cycle-to-work schemes have reported a doubling in sales in recent weeks – a figure expected to rise even further now. On Saturday (9 May), transport secretary Grant Shapps set out a £2bn programme to expand cycling and walking, including an immediate £250m fund for infrastructure improvements and a voucher scheme for cycle repairs.

8.35am Gig workers exposed to virus, union warns

Workers in the gig economy are being put at risk of coronavirus infection because the government is failing to enforce EU safety at work regulations, according to the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, which has written to the Department for Work and Pensions threatening legal action if the duty of care is not extended to those who are not employees. 

The union, whose members are cleaners, drivers, couriers, foster care workers and others in non-staff roles, says many are not being provided with personal protective equipment or being tested for infection. Courier drivers carrying samples for testing that may contain coronavirus are particularly at risk, the letter states.

8.30am Chancellor to reveal furlough scheme next steps

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to reveal the future of the government's job retention scheme later, amid growing calls to extend it. The Resolution Foundation has urged the government to extend the scheme until at least September. It said this would cost the exchequer as much as £48bn but would be critical in avoiding spiralling job losses. The think tank urged the government to allow for “partial furloughing” from as early as June, but said the 80 per cent support should also be kept in place across until at least August – and September for businesses in sectors where the return to work will take longer, including hospitality.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, backed these calls. “Firms will need to know that government support schemes, which have helped save millions of jobs in recent weeks, will continue for as long as they are needed so that they can plan ahead with confidence,” he said.

7.40am Hundreds of National Trust for Scotland jobs under threat of redundancy

A total of 429 staff at the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) are at risk of being made redundant as the charity's income has been 'virtually eradicated' during what would have normally been its busiest period. The NTS said it has launched a series of emergency actions – including selling off non-heritage land and property and seeking support from the Scottish government – as its future was in doubt because of the pandemic.

The NTS's estate and holiday accommodations have been closed since March to comply with lockdown restrictions, and the charity said its income was forecast to drop by £28m this year as a result. NTS chief executive Simon Skinner said he saw "little prospect of us being able to return to more levels of membership, visitation and income for the rest of this year and beyond" because the charity has "effectively missed the busiest part" of the visitor season and the possibility that some level of restrictions will still apply to the hospitality sector even after lockdown.

Monday 11 May

5pm ‘Spot inspections’ will be carried out on businesses reopening, says PM

The government will carry out spot inspections to ensure businesses that reopen following the relaxation of lockdown rules abide by the new coronavirus safety guidance, the prime minister has said. Speaking at the Commons today, Boris Johnson said: "We are going to insist that businesses are going to look after their workers… We will be having spot inspections to make sure businesses are keeping employees safe."

Asked whether it will be difficult for parents to return to work before schools reopen, Johnson said the education secretary would be outlining more detailed proposals to help those with childcare needs.

His comments follow the publication today of a 50-page document outlining the government’s plan to reverse the lockdown. Additional sector-specific guidance for businesses is expected to be released tomorrow.

2.45pm Employers told not to ‘rush in and regret it’ as PM calls for some to return to work

Business groups and HR experts have urged employers not to “rush in and regret it later” despite the prime minister’s latest instruction that those who cannot work from home should now be “encouraged to go to work”. The calls come as prime minister Boris Johnson  outlined his “conditional plan” for getting the country back to work in a televised speech to the nation yesterday (10 May).

The TUC said the announcement was a "recipe for chaos" as the government still has not published guidance on how staff will be kept safe in workplaces. “Don’t rush in and regret it later!” Neil Carberry, CEO of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, tweeted

Speaking to People Management, Carberry said that while no employer could be asked to guarantee coronavirus would never be transmissible in their workplace, they could “still be asked to do what is reasonable to ensure staff are protected” by carrying out further, detailed risk assessments.

2.30pm Two in five anxious about returning to work, poll finds

More than two-fifths of UK workers are anxious about the prospect of returning to the workplace following the coronavirus outbreak, a CIPD survey has shown. The poll of 1,000 working adults found that 44 per cent reported feeling anxious about the prospect of going back to work because of the health risks posed by Covid-19 to them and those close to them.

The findings have led to calls from the CIPD and other experts for employers to make sure they address any employee concerns when planning their return to more normal working patterns, and for the government to recognise legitimate employee concerns in its new guidance.

1.45pm Call for tests for frontline police officers in Scotland

Representatives of Scotland's police officers have called for officers who do not outwardly present coronavirus symptoms to be routinely tested for coronavirus to avoid them becoming "super spreaders" to the public. Currently, only symptomatic police officers or members of their household are included in the priority group for testing. Scottish Police Federation (SPF) chairman David Hamilton argued that asymptomatic frontline officers should be included in the priority group for testing, and failure to do so created a "back door" for the virus to spread within the workplace and public. 

Hamilton said: "At the moment people are returning to work and continuing to work potentially spreading the virus amongst the colleagues and amongst the public and that is something that can't be acceptable from a public health perspective." The SPF has been calling for asymptomatic testing for many weeks as officers encounter situations when they are not wearing personal protective equipment. 

12pm Care worker death rate twice that of other workers

People working in social care in England and Wales have been twice as likely to die from the coronavirus as those in other sectors, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Of the 2,494 deaths analysed up to 20 April, 131 were care workers. The analysis also found men working in the "lowest-skilled occupations" had the highest rate of death involving Covid-19, with 225 deaths recorded, and men working as security guards had one of the highest rates in this group (63 deaths).

The ONS analysis factored in age, job and gender of those who have died from the coronavirus, but did not take into account people's ethnicity, location, socio-economic status or underlying health conditions. Because of this, the ONS cautioned that the analysis cannot definitively prove the deaths were caused by the jobs people do or other factors. 

8.45am Johnson says those who can’t work from home should return to work

In a televised address on Sunday night (9 May), prime minister Boris Johnson set out the changed emphasis on lockdown restrictions, from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’. While workers who can work from home should continue to do so, those who can’t should now assume they should go back to work, rather than presume they should not. Johnson said he wanted those in the construction and manufacturing industries to return to work this week. But he told people to avoid using public transport where possible. He said workplaces would receive guidance on how to become "Covid secure".

8.30am Drive-through takeaways urged to reopen

McDonald’s and other drive-through restaurants are being encouraged to reopen after a government minister said they were “made for social distancing”. George Eustice, environment minister, said takeaway food businesses were never explicitly ordered to close because of the coronavirus outbreak, but chose to do so because of footfall, staff anxiety and the sense that it was not socially acceptable to remain open.

Thursday 7 May 

4.15pm HMRC launches coronavirus support scheme for self-employed

HMRC has started contacting 3.5 million people who may be eligible for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. From this week, those who may be eligible to receive a backdated cash grant worth up to £7,500 will receive a letter, email or text message with information about how to make an online claim when the service opens on 13 May.

If a claim is successful, payments will reach bank accounts by 25 May, or six working days after the claim is made, HMRC said, suggesting the scheme will be delivered ahead of the original schedule of “early June”. To qualify for support, individuals need to earn at least half of their income through self-employment, and have annual trading profits of no more than £50,000.

4pm Rolls-Royce to cut 'thousands' of jobs

Rolls-Royce has confirmed it is preparing to make large-scale job cuts. The aerospace company is considering making as many as 8,000 of its 52,000 global workforce redundant, according to the Guardian. The company said 4,000 UK workers have been furloughed. Some of its staff were involved in the national effort to build more ventilators for the NHS.

2.55pm What might the end of furlough look like – and how should HR prepare?

The government’s coronavirus job retention scheme is expected to formally wind down from July as lockdown measures are eased.

With prime minister Boris Johnson set to reveal plans to gradually lift lockdown this Sunday (10 May), chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly preparing to outline plans to officially end the scheme next week – to allow time for the fact that employers with more than 100 staff must run a 45-day consultation before making any redundancies. 

So what is the end of the scheme likely to look like, and which options do HR and employment experts believe will be most helpful and feasible for employers?

2.50pm “What starting a new HR job during lockdown taught me about onboarding”

Embarking on a new role entirely remotely led Jig Ramji, group head of talent at the London Stock Exchange Group, to contemplate the importance of staff fully immersing themselves in the cultural nuances of their new employer

2.45pm How can HR remotely manage… staff wellbeing?

Spotting a dip in employee wellbeing is challenging even when you are in the workplace, let alone in a virtual working environment. So how can HR professionals keep an eye on what’s going on with their workforces under the surface when they're not face to face? 

2.40pm Are salary reductions due to Covid-19 legal?

Recent reports Heathrow threatened to dismiss staff who refused to accept voluntary pay cuts have ruffled feathers, explains James Froud, but was the airport within the law?

11.15am Health and social care is the only industry increasing hiring

Most sectors of the economy have seen a sharp drop in demand for both permanent and temporary staff, according to the latest figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG.

The slump was led by businesses in hospitality and catering, while health and social care was the only industry to report an increase in demand for staff. Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said the new figures “set records in all the wrong ways”, adding: “While fighting the virus must remain our priority, the lockdown cannot be sustained indefinitely without long-lasting effects on unemployment and job creation.”

9.15am Ocado shareholders make protest vote against pay rise and bonus for directors

Ocado has been hit by a 30 per cent shareholder revolt against a pay rise and £88m bonus for its directors, but said this would not change its pay plans. The online grocer has reported a 40 per cent increase in sales since 1 March as it benefited from high demand for home deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic. But the company does not expect a boost to profits because of additional costs related to managing the crisis, including a 10 per cent bonus for workers, testing delivery drivers for Covid-19 and further investment in IT and infrastructure to meet increased demand for its services. 

The firm has not furloughed staff under the government’s job retention scheme. Duncan Tatton-Brown, chief financial officer, said Ocado was “outperforming” other supermarkets in offering help to shoppers shielding at home.

9am Prison and probation staff given bonuses for extra hours

Prison and probation staff in England and Wales who work extra hours during the pandemic are being given bonuses of up to £1,700, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has revealed. Prison governors and managers are being paid an additional £1,500.

8.45am Boom in cycle-to-work scheme uptake among key workers

Cycle-to-work schemes, allowing employees to claim a tax credit on bikes they buy at work, have seen a 200 per cent increase in bicycle orders from people working for emergency services, as workers avoid public transport over fears of catching coronavirus. Adrian Warren who runs an alliance of cycle schemes, told the BBC: "This past six weeks, we have seen the biggest experiment in transport policy this country has even known. It's clear the default option is cycling."

8.30am Five more Debenhams stores to shut with 1,000 jobs at risk

Debenhams has announced it will permanently close a further five of its department stores, all located in shopping centres owned by property firm Hammerson, putting 1,000 jobs at risk. The latest closures include its stores in the Oracle shopping centre in Reading and in Birmingham’s Bullring, and mean that 16 of its UK outlets will remain shuttered when lockdown restrictions are eased.

Wednesday 6 May

6pm Jenrick says it’s his ‘mission to ensure’ everything is being done to get people back to work

During the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, communities secretary Robert Jenrick said it is the government's "mission to ensure everything we can do is done to help people go back to work safely and to reunite friends". He said his department was working on plans on how the lockdown can be eased, including work on "how workplaces can be adapted, how outdoor spaces can be managed and how public transport networks from tube to trams to buses can operate". He said he wanted infrastructure and construction work to begin again "wherever it is safe to do so".

Also covered during the briefing was the issue of whether returning teachers should wear personal protective equipment. Jenrick said the latest advice was that staff in "non-resident education settings" don't need it, but this will be kept under review. In response to a question on what the UK government can do to help Rolls-Royce, which recently announced job cuts, he said the aviation sector was facing "unprecedented" challenges but he was confident it would "have a great future".

3.45pm Uber to cut 3,700 jobs

Uber has announced it will cut 3,700 jobs, roughly 14 per cent of its corporate workforce. In a staff memo seen by the Financial Times, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi warned additional cuts would be announced in due course as the company made “difficult adjustments” to match “the reality of our business”. Job cuts will at first mostly affect customer support and recruiting teams, the company said. Last week, rival group Lyft said it would cut 17 per cent of its workforce.

3.30pm Airbnb to make quarter of its staff redundant

Airbnb has announced plans to make 1,900 staff redundant – about a quarter of its global workforce – after it forecast that revenues in 2020 would be half the $4.8bn (£3.9bn) generated in 2019. The firm has employees in 24 countries. Some of the deepest job cuts were likely to be in newer areas of the business such as Airbnb “Luxe”, which offers upmarket homes and dedicated trip designers, it said.

1.10pm Half of workers expect to work more flexibly after lockdown, survey finds

Almost half (45 per cent) of workers expect to work more flexibly after lockdown restrictions on UK businesses are lifted, according to research conducted by O2, ICM and YouGov. A third (33 per cent) of respondents expected to work from home at least three days a week after lockdown, and 81 per cent expected to work remotely at least one day a week.

1.05pm Heathrow Airport trialling temperature testing, MPs told

CEO of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, has told the Transport Select Committee it is trialling large-scale temperature checks. He said the practice is already taking place at departure gates where passengers are travelling to destinations where this is a requirement. 

Holland-Kaye urged the government to produce a plan on what common standards airports should adopt. "If you want to get the UK economy started again, you have to get the aviation sector started again,” he said, adding “If we are told that the only solution until we can get a vaccine in 12 to 18 months' time is to socially distance in an airport, then tens of thousands of jobs will be cut.”

12.20pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …Clarity

The business travel company is keeping furloughed and home working staff up to date with a regular podcast while preparing to eventually return to its offices. 

12.15pm Do we need a new approach to flexible working?

With recent Covid-19 developments, it has become alarmingly clear that to provide for business continuity, there needs to be an element of agile working available both for the employees’ and the employer’s benefit.

James Kidd, partner at Mills and Reeve, argues this could be the push business needed to take agile working seriously and is an opportunity to test drive flexible working conditions.

12pm Are virtual candidate assessments as good as face-to-face?

With many organisations hurriedly implementing digital tools in the wake of Covid-19, Charlotte Schaller, managing director of Aon’s Assessment Solutions, explains what organisations should consider before turning their recruitment digital

9.15am BDO to potentially become one of first UK firms to regularly test staff

The UK’s fifth largest accounting firm BDO is considering testing its 5,500 UK staff for coronavirus every two weeks as the firm plans a way of returning to its offices after the lockdown ends. It is in early talks about procuring the antigen kits that diagnose whether a person has the virus, according to the Financial Times. If the plans go ahead, BDO would become one of the first firms in the UK to start regular testing of employees.

In terms of international companies who have started testing staff, engineering group ABB has started testing staff at its headquarters in Switzerland; Amazon is building its own testing facilities; BP is testing offshore oil and gas workers; while online supermarket Ocado has bought 100,000 kits for its delivery staff.

9am Think tank warns of career and pay hit to ‘corona class of 2020’

The 800,000 school leavers and graduates due to join the labour market shortly is the most exposed age group to the likely unemployment surge caused by coronavirus, according to research by the Resolution Foundation. Youth unemployment in the UK will reach the 1 million mark over the coming year unless the government provides job guarantees or incentives for school leavers and graduates to stay in education, it said. The think tank said otherwise an extra 600,000 people under the age of 25 would risk long-term damage to their career and pay prospects. 

The report said employment rates of graduates entering the labour market during this crisis were projected to be 13 per cent lower in three years’ time than they would have been. A year after leaving education the pay of graduates is projected to be 7 per cent lower, and 9 per cent and 19 per cent lower for mid- and low-skilled workers. Ministers must respond by offering guaranteed jobs, focusing apprenticeship opportunities on young workers and introducing new maintenance grants to encourage the under 25s to extend their education by a year, the think tank urged.

8.50am Qatar Airways warns of 'substantial' job losses

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has written to staff warning of “substantial” job losses, although he did not say how many were under threat. "The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current staff numbers and will need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant – inclusive of cabin crew," Al Baker wrote in an internal memo. The state-owned airline employs more than 45,000 people. "The unparalleled impact [of Covid-19] on our industry has caused significant challenges for all airlines and we must act decisively to protect the future of our business," a Qatar Airways spokesperson said.

8.45am Most employers say they could be ready to restart in three weeks, research finds

The British Chambers of Commerce Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker suggested businesses offering services to other businesses were the most ready, with two-thirds (68 per cent) saying they would need less than one week or no notice at all to restart operations. This compared to 50 per cent of business-to-consumer service firms. Smaller businesses might also be able to restart operations more quickly, with almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents employing fewer than 10 people saying they would need less than one week, compared to half (50 per cent) of respondents with more than 50 employees. For firms of all sizes, 25 per cent said they would not need any notice, 35 per cent said they would need less than a week’s notice, 29 per cent said they would need one to three weeks’ notice, 7 per cent said they would need three to six weeks’ notice, and 3 per cent said they would need more than 3 weeks’ notice.

8.30am Government preparing to wind down job retention scheme from July

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to wind down the coronavirus furlough scheme from July as part of government plans to gradually remove lockdown measures, according to the Guardian. It reported that the Treasury is understood to be examining several options for tapering the scheme, including cutting the 80 per cent wage subsidy to 60 per cent and lowering the £2,500 monthly cap. Another option promoted by employers’ groups is to allow furloughed staff to work but with a smaller state subsidy. Sources indicated that a final decision has yet to be made, the Guardian reported, but the Treasury was working closely with Number 10 as Boris Johnson prepared to outline plans on Sunday (10 May) to gradually lift lockdown restrictions.

Tuesday 5 May

5.30pm Cyber criminals targeting organisations to exploit the crisis

During the government’s daily briefing, foreign secretary Dominic Raab warned of reports that cyber criminals are trying to exploit the crisis by targeting businesses. He said there was evidence of them targeting organisations involved in tackling the pandemic, adding the government was "working to make sure [organisations] are aware of the cyber threat" to ensure business leaders took “steps to mitigate the harm" – something that will likely, of course, involve HR professionals highlighting phishing threats to employees.

2.40pm Are organisations fulfilling their duty of care around global mobility?

Research finds employers are genuinely concerned about workforce wellbeing, which will be even more key to attracting talent post Covid-19, says Dr Benjamin Bader, academic partner and strategic adviser at The RES Forum, and senior lecturer in international HR management at Newcastle University Business School.

2.30pm How can employers deal with virtual tribunal hearings?

Richard Fox, partner in the employment team at Kingsley Napley LLP, explores how organisations can prepare for an increase in remote employment tribunal hearings caused by the coronavirus outbreak

2.20pm How to conduct a remote meeting

While a level of professionalism should be maintained during video calls, many of the usual rules can be relaxed in the current climate, says Claire Williams, director of people and services at CIPHR. 

2.15pm Virgin Atlantic to cut 3,000 jobs and close Gatwick operation

Airline Virgin Atlantic has announced it will cut almost a third of its 10,000 staff, and could not rule out completely closing its operation at Gatwick Airport. 

The company revealed today that it is to cut around 3,000 jobs in a move the pilots’ union Balpa described as “devastating”. Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said the unions’ membership and all Virgin Atlantic staff will be “shocked by the scale of this bombshell. We will be challenging Virgin very hard to justify this." Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson previously stated the company was seeking government loans in order to stay afloat. 

1pm Three in five organisations have stopped recruiting apprentices due to Covid-19, survey finds

Three-fifths (60 per cent) of employers have stopped all new apprenticeship starts since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to research by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP). The AELP also found three-quarters of employers had stopped at least 80 per cent of the starts normally expected at this time of year. 

The survey revealed a third (34 per cent) of apprentices had a less than one in five chance of completing their programmes or end point assessment in the expected timescale. Lizzie Crowley, skills and policy advisor at the CIPD, said the results were “not surprising”, confirming that apprenticeships would take longer to complete in the current crisis. She added: “However, ensuring we maintain a training infrastructure that is ready to provide the skills that we need for the future is very important."

12.20pm HR managers fear rise in staff absence due to lockdown mental ill-health

Almost three in five (58 per cent) HR managers fear losing staff to sick leave due to the mental health impacts of working in lockdown, a survey by LinkedIn and the Mental Health Foundation has found. More than half (54 per cent) of the 1,000 HR leaders surveyed said they believed mental health issues such as stress, burnout, isolation and loneliness had increased among their workforce since the coronavirus crisis hit and most workers have had to do their jobs from home. 

More than three-quarters of HR managers surveyed (79 per cent) said they believed the widespread implementation of home working encouraged so-called ‘e-presenteeism’ – a culture where workers feel they should be online and available to colleagues as much as possible, even when feeling unwell or having already worked their contracted hours.

10am Pubs call on government to lift ‘arbitrary’ grant threshold

More than 50,000 retail, hospitality and leisure businesses are at risk of closure due to being ineligible for a government grant scheme, a campaign group has warned. The Raise the Bar campaign, launched last month by the Croydon Business Improvement District and the Mr Fox pub in Croydon, has called for the government’s retail, hospitality and leisure grant to cover businesses with rateable values of over £51,000. 

The campaign has called on the government to extend the grant (which is worth up to £25,000) to businesses with a rateable value of up to £150,000, which would make a further 54,638 establishments eligible for support. A group of Conservative MPs has also written to the chancellor calling for this threshold to be raised.

9.30am Pensions industry calls for further final salary ‘breathing space’ for firms hit by Covid-19

The Pensions Regulator is facing calls to extend payment holidays for employers funding final salary pension plans. Last month, it relaxed funding rules for UK companies with defined benefit schemes, giving pension schemes totalling 11 million members the option to suspend cash payments into plans and pause transfer requests for up to three months. Now calls have been made for it to go further and extend payment holidays to six months to give further “breathing space” from disruption and market volatility caused by Covid-19.

9.15am Tenants accuse workspace provider of ‘unethical profiteering’

Workspace provider IWG has been criticised by tenants for its perceived lack of communication and support, according to the Guardian. Locked out of their offices owing to government travel restrictions, IWG’s customers have complained requests for rent reductions or deferments were initially ignored as the group insisted full rent was due because its buildings remained open for key workers and to maintain customer services such as mail delivery and IT. More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for IWG to close all of its 312 UK centres and freeze all rent or memberships, or provide “substantial discounts”. IWG said it had offered “reasonable” discounts, such as 50 per cent reductions, to many customers. 

Commentators warned many flexible workspace providers may be left exposed by the pandemic, with such firms – including the troubled WeWork – tending to sign long leases for buildings from their landlords while renting the space on much shorter terms to customers.

9am Furlough scheme means nearly a quarter of worker wages now paid by government

The government is now paying the wages for nearly a quarter of UK jobs as a result of its coronavirus job retention scheme. Around 2.5 million people registered last week for the scheme, bringing total claims to 6.3 million – 23 per cent of the employed workforce. The government said about 800,000 employers have reported furloughing workers since 20 April. It said it had distributed £8bn so far, with an average payout of £1,269 per employee. The scheme is currently due to run through June, suggesting the total cost could exceed £30bn.

Monday 4 May

5.15pm Amazon vice president quits over firing of staff critical of firm’s Covid-19 approach

A vice president at Amazon has quit "in dismay" at its crackdown against workers who criticised it over coronavirus safety measures. Tim Bray said the firing of protesters was "evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture". Workers have criticised Amazon for not doing enough to protect warehouse staff. Bray, who was a senior engineer at Amazon Web Services, set out in a blog why he had left the company.

5pm Hotel Chocolat to reopen some UK stores for takeaway amid worker safety measures

Luxury confectionery brand Hotel Chocolat is to reopen up to five stores next week for takeaways only after restarting production at its factory in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and bringing around 80 staff – roughly a third of its factory workforce – back from furlough.

Angus Thirlwell, chief executive and co-founder, said the aim was to gradually bring back more staff over time, as long as social distancing measures such as perspex screens to divide staff on production lines and in the canteen continued to work well.

4.45pm Half of British adults anxious about lockdown’s impact on their jobs, wellbeing and finances

More than 25 million people were affected by high levels of anxiety in late March as the decision to put the UK into lockdown triggered fears about health, job security and making ends meet among half the adult population. People’s main concerns were personal wellbeing, their jobs and the impact of Covid-19 on their finances. Those who thought they would not be able to save any money over the following 12 months reported anxiety 33 per cent higher than those who thought they would.

4.30pm Cost of rush hour transport should be raised to reduce crowding, says IFS

The price of a bus, train or tube ticket during peak commuting hours should be raised to prevent crowding and the spread of coronavirus on public transport, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). In its report, the IFS said the usual logic of promoting public transport use – to cut congestion and pollution – could be reversed to limit the spread of the virus on packed commuter trains and buses, especially in London.

2.40pm Rolls-Royce to cut up to 8,000 jobs 

Rolls-Royce could cut up to 8,000 jobs after aircraft manufacturers were forced to cut production during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a report by the Financial Times, the aeroplane engine maker employs 52,000 people worldwide, with 23,000 staff in the UK, and has begun work on a restructuring plan to cut thousands of jobs. 

According to a company source, senior leaders have warned "cuts could be as high as 8,000, but efforts to mitigate the impact are ongoing". Rolls-Royce is expected to tell staff the actual number of job losses by the end of May.

2.30pm What are the government's new rules for reopening workplaces – and will they work?

The government has drafted initial guidance on how UK companies can reopen their workplaces and gradually exit lockdown. A draft document seen by the BBC includes a range of guidelines for businesses to follow, covering additional health and safety and wellbeing requirements.

Michael Gove, cabinet office secretary, said on Sunday (3 May) that any exit of lockdown measures would be “staged” and not a single “flick of the switch”. The government has circulated the draft guidance to business groups and unions before publishing its official final set of guidelines. People Management asked HR and employment law experts about the feasibility of draft proposals for keeping staff safe as they return to work. 

12.30pm Unions raise concerns over ‘less than 15 minutes’ meeting advice

Union leaders have called on the government to explain its official advice that work meetings are acceptable if confined to “less than 15 minutes”. Official advice from Public Health England says the priority for companies is for “social distancing measures to apply for everyone”. But where this is not possible, staff should work side-by-side or facing away from each other, and “where face-to-face contact is essential this should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible”, it states.

Mike Clancy, head of the Prospect union, has written to health secretary Matt Hancock asking him to publish the medical evidence for the guidance. “We cannot find any evidence to suggest or support the proposition that exposures of less than 15 minutes are any safer than exposures of more than 15 minutes or that exposures of less than 15 minutes do not expose individuals to significant risk,” he wrote.

9.30am Government issues draft return to work guidelines

Business groups and trade unions have been sent draft guidelines of the government’s proposals to reopen workplaces. The guidance states that employers are encouraged to ask staff to stay two metres apart where possible but where it's not, additional measures should be considered. These should include additional hygiene procedures, physical screens and the use of protective equipment.

Other measures outlined include reducing hot-desking, staggered arrival and break times, minimising the use of equipment or office space by many users, and avoiding chopping and changing worker rotas. Workers considered vulnerable but who cannot work from home should be put in the "safest possible roles" in the workplace, it said.

9am TUC calls for job guarantee scheme

The TUC is calling on the government to provide a job guarantee scheme as part of its national coronavirus recovery plan. It would have similarities to the Future Jobs Fund, which was part of the national recovery plan following the recession in 2008 caused by the private banking crisis.

Jobs created by the scheme should, the TUC said, be additional jobs that would not otherwise be created by employers; benefit the UK and its communities, such as by helping to decarbonise the economy; offer secure contracts of at least six months; offer wages that pay at least the real Living Wage; provide training opportunities to help people move into longer-term work; and guarantee access to trade union representation.

Friday 1 May

4.20pm Government extends list of key workers eligible for visa extensions

The Home Office has extended its list of frontline workers who will have their visa automatically extended as part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak. The latest update will also allow NHS workers on a visa to work at any NHS site during the outbreak, and, where applicable, removes any upper limits to the number of hours these key workers can work.

However, Chetal Patel, partner at Bates Wells, said while change is welcome, the expanded list of professions “does not go far enough”. “What about other individuals who are undertaking key roles in the NHS like hospital porters, healthcare assistants or cleaners? Why can’t they benefit when they are on the frontline as well?” she said.

Patel also cautioned that, while sponsors are no longer required to notify the Home Office that staff are working at different sites, these employers still need to maintain their sponsorship duties and consider what reporting lines are in place. “Failure to comply with sponsor duties can impact both a sponsor and the individual sponsored worker. This policy announcement highlights the flexible working arrangements that need to be in place for sponsored workers moving from one NHS hospital to another during the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

3.10pm Two-thirds of businesses have furloughed employees, ONS figures show

Two-thirds of employers have furloughed workers using the government’s job retention scheme, the latest official figures have shown.

An update from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found out of more than 5,000 businesses surveyed, 66 per cent had used the government’s job retention scheme to avoid making redundancies – making the scheme the most popular of all the financial aid programmes created by the government to help businesses through the coronavirus outbreak, which also included business rates holidays and VAT payment deferrals.

Among companies that reported having temporarily closed or paused trading, the number that have made use of the furlough scheme rose to 82 per cent.

3pm How can HR remotely manage… disciplinaries?

People Management looks at the implications of many employers now having to conduct disciplinaries remotely in the wake of coronavirus. According to new guidance issued by Acas, its code of practice and the law will still need to be followed during the crisis. Acas advises that disciplinary meetings can still go ahead as long as social distancing measures are adhered to, and that the employee has access to the necessary technology.

Helen Hayward, HR consultant at Defuse HR, says technically there’s nothing stopping an organisation conducting a disciplinary remotely. But, she says: “It comes down to an ethical and moral issue. Is it right to do it remotely, but equally, is it right to leave that person with stress?”

2.55pm McDonald's announces gradual relaunch of restaurants starting 13 May

McDonald's has announced it will begin reopening its restaurants for delivery and takeaway after closing following the Covid-19 outbreak. The fast food chain, which has more than 1,200 sites in the UK, revealed earlier this week that it had been trialling a relaunch strategy, and has now confirmed it is ready to roll out a limited service on 13 May.

UK and Ireland CEO Paul Pomroy said in a statement sent to i that 15 McDonald's restaurants will open on 13 May, but more restaurants would follow. 

9.30am Greggs postpones planned branch reopening

Greggs has changed its mind about reopening 20 shops next week, fearing crowds of customers could gather and risk the health and safety of staff and the public alike. The company originally said on Monday (27 April) it planned to reopen shops in the Newcastle area starting next week to see if it could operate effectively with physical distancing measures as the lockdown is eased.

However, it has now had a change of heart and put off opening stores again. A spokesperson said: “Due to significant interest in our 20-shop trial, and the risk that excessive numbers of customers may plan to visit Greggs, we will now initially operate these trials behind closed doors in order to effectively test our new operational safety measures." They added the bakery chain will continue to review opening their shops to the public and will invite walk-in customers when Greggs can be confident they are protecting staff and customers from risk of infection. 

8.00am Ryanair to axe 3,000 jobs due to Covid-19

Ryanair has today said it expects up to 3,000 jobs to be lost as part of a restructuring plan as its fleets remain grounded due to the coronavirus crisis. The airline said these job cuts will mainly affect pilot and cabin crew jobs, but other workers may be asked to take unpaid leave and pay cuts of up to 20 per cent. Group CEO Michael O’Leary, whose pay was cut by 50 per cent for April and May, has now agreed to extend this cut for the remainder of the financial year to March 2021.

7.30am British Airways to cut Gatwick operation and lay off 1,000 pilots

British Airways (BA) plans to cut more than 1,100 pilots and make heavy cuts to its Gatwick Airport operations as part of a restructure plan which will include 12,000 redundancies in total. The airline informed staff of the cuts after it announced on Tuesday (28 April) evening that it intended to lay off up to 30 per cent of its workforce.

In emails to staff and unions, managers, BA warned “there is no certainty as to when services can return” because of the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown restrictions on air travel, and that they had “not ruled out suspending the remainder of our Heathrow operation” in addition to the cuts being made at Gatwick and London City airports. 

Thursday 30 April 

2.50pm Oasis and Warehouse to permanently close, with loss of 1,800 jobs

Retail brands Oasis and Warehouse will permanently close all their stores and online shopping with the loss of more than 1,800 jobs after administrators said they had been unable to secure a rescue deal for the chains because of Covid-19.  Rob Harding, joint administrator at Deloitte, said the pandemic had presented “extraordinary challenges” for the retail industry as a whole and that the sale of the two retail chains was not possible. Harding added: “This is a very difficult time for the group’s employees and other key stakeholders and we will do everything we can to support them through this.”

Oasis and Warehouse called in administrators earlier this month and made 200 head office staff redundant without any payoff. The 1,800 workers now being made redundant had been furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme.

1.40pm Government reportedly preparing return to work guidance

The government could be issuing detailed guidance on how businesses around the UK can safely return to work as early as this week, it has been reported, as a number of companies are starting to slowly ramp up business. According to a report by the Financial Times, business secretary Alok Sharma will publish guidance before this weekend that will break down in “granular detail” how businesses can start to reopen once prime minister Boris Johnson orders the easing of the lockdown. 

This will reportedly set out how safe working can take place in confined areas like factories and offices while keeping in mind social distancing measures, and include advice to restrict access to communal workplace spaces. The report comes as the CIPD releases a returning to the workplace guide for people professionals, which warned any changes to the current lockdown restrictions were likely to be slow and sector-specific. 

12pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Lime Wood Group Hotels

People Management talks to Steve Rockey, people director of the hotel group, about how the organisation is tackling the logistical, financial and staff wellbeing implications of the global pandemic.

11am JD Wetherspoon plans to reopen pubs in June

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has announced it is planning “for a reopening of pubs and hotels in or around June”. In a statement to investors at the company’s half-yearly results, Wetherspoon said it was “likely to make some changes to its operating model, assuming increased social distancing, and anticipates a gradual recovery in customer numbers”. 

All 867 Wetherspoons branches have been closed since the government ordered the closure of social venues on 20 March. Almost all the chain’s staff (99 per cent) have been furloughed, while the company’s chair, Tim Martin, and chief executive John Hutson have said they will be taking 50 per cent pay cuts to help the company survive the lockdown. 

10.45am KFC to reopen another 80 UK branches

Fast food chain KFC has announced it will reopen another 80 restaurants across the UK next week, in addition to the 20 that had already resumed business in recent weeks. 

In a statement, the company said it was doing so “responsibly and carefully, with stringent processes and hygiene measures put in place”. The stores are open for delivery only, with reduced menus to support kitchen staff in maintaining social distancing. KFC also said it was working hard to open more branches in the coming weeks.

8.20am Visas for further 3,000 overseas health and social care workers extended

More than 3,000 overseas health and social care workers have had their visas extended by an extra 12 months to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. The Home Office announced yesterday (29 April) that midwives, radiographers, social care workers and pharmacists in the NHS and independent sectors and their families were now eligible for the visa extension. 

This latest move does not include physiotherapists, who have urged ministers to expand the government scheme to cover the 3,000 overseas physio workers in the UK. The announcement follows the extension of visas for 2,800 overseas NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics last month.

7.50am BBC likely to make cuts to output as Covid-19 hits revenues 

The BBC is facing another round of job cuts as its predicted income is set to fall by £125m because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Guardian has reported. This is said to be caused by many people stopping paying the licence fee during the crisis, and a significant drop in commercial revenue. According to reports by the newspaper, director general Tony Hall told staff on Wednesday (29 April) he was deferring negotiations over pay rises until later this year, putting a freeze on all but essential recruitment and reviewing major capital projects. But he warned this alone will not be enough to make up the shortfall, and there are likely to be cuts to some programmes.

In March, the broadcaster announced it planned to suspend the sweeping restructure of its news division, which would include cutting 450 journalist roles, as the broadcaster sought to cover the outbreak of coronavirus around the world. This came after the BBC said it would need to make another £40m worth of cuts to make a 2022 savings target, which included cutting hundreds of jobs across the BBC’s global news outputs. 

Wednesday 29 April

2.45pm Boeing to cut 15,000 jobs worldwide in 'body blow'

Plane maker Boeing announced it plans to cut 15,000 jobs worldwide, saying that the coronavirus pandemic had delivered a “body blow” to the business. Boeing  said it planned to reduce its 150,000-strong workforce by 10 per cent and that cuts would be steeper in some departments, such as its commercial airlines business which has collapsed since the outbreak. 

In a letter to staff, chief executive Dave Calhoun said that the pandemic had meant the demand for airline travel had "fallen off a cliff", and it could take the aviation industry “years to return to the levels of traffic we saw just a few months ago”. 

1pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

People Management talks to Louise Clark, the trust’s director of workforce, to discover how the NHS trust has redeployed and upskilled thousands of staff to support critical areas of its coronavirus response, as well as what it’s doing to look after the wellbeing of its 13,000-strong workforce while on the frontline of the pandemic.

12.30pm Greggs to begin reopening shops amid lockdown

Bakery chain Greggs will reopen 20 shops in the Newcastle area from Monday 4 May as part of a “controlled trial”, with more stores set to follow. In a letter to staff, chief executive Roger Whiteside said the trial, which is set to last at least two weeks, would involve a limited product range and shorter trading hours. He added that he hoped to open about 700 stores from 8 June and to have all 2,050 stores open again by 1 July, when the government's job retention scheme is due to end.

However, Greggs said this timing could change, depending on future government announcements. A Greggs spokeswoman told the BBC: “We want to play our part in getting the nation back up and running again, so we are planning to conduct a limited trial with volunteers to explore how we can reopen our shops with new measures in place that keep our colleagues and customers as safe as we can when we reopen at scale.”

11.40am Majority of employers want furlough scheme extended to September

Employers would like to see the government’s job retention scheme extended until the end of September, according to a survey published today. In the CIPD poll of more than 1,000 businesses, 60 per cent of respondents said a three-month extension to the scheme was the most important labour market policy change that would help them cope with the effects of Covid-19. 

The survey also highlighted employers’ appetite to see the scheme made more flexible, with 76 per cent of companies that had already furloughed staff reporting it would be useful for these workers to be able to put in reduced hours. Seven in 10 employers using the scheme said up to half their furloughed workers could work reduced hours. CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said measures to allow more flexibility would “reduce the risk of large-scale redundancies in this next phase of the crisis”. 

10am Government launches online platform to boost furloughed workers’ skills

The Department for Education has launched an online learning platform for people to use while not working during the coronavirus pandemic. The Skills Toolkit offers free digital and numeracy courses, which the government says will boost users’ job prospects.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said he wanted businesses to “encourage their furloughed employees to use the Skills Toolkit to improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have the skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak”.

7.40am McDonald’s trials UK branch reopening 

McDonald's is testing reopening a branch of its fast food chain this week for “operational tests”, but will remain closed to customers. The restaurant group said it is keen to reopen branches as soon as possible, but it is taking its time to ensure they reopen “responsibly, when the time is right”. 

Paul Pomroy, McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive, said: “For now we remain closed, and will only reopen when we are absolutely confident we can have the right measures in place to ensure everyone's wellbeing.” The tests will involve “exploring social distancing measures for our crew, PPE options and opening in a limited capacity”, he said.

Tuesday 28 April

5.45pm British Airways to make 12,000 staff redundant

After furloughing nearly 23,000 staff through the government’s job retention scheme, British Airways (BA) has today announced it could be making up to 12,000 staff redundant in a further response to the significant drop in demand for air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline’s parent company, IAG, has put a restructuring and redundancy programme to trade unions after losing £459m during the first quarter of 2020. 

BA’s chief executive and chairman, Alex Cruz, said: “We do not know when countries will reopen their borders or when the lockdowns will lift, and so we have to reimagine and reshape our airline and create a new future for our people, our customers and the destinations we serve.

“We have informed the government and the trade unions of our proposals to consult over a number of changes, including possible reductions in headcount.

“There is no government bail-out standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely.”

5pm More than 4,000 Covid-19-related concerns about workplace safety raised since outbreak

Between 9 March and 26 April, the HSE received 4,142 concerns related in some way to Covid-19, a spokesperson for the enforcement body confirmed today. Almost a third (31 per cent) of those complaints were received the week beginning 30 April, the week after the government closed pubs and restaurants, and required employees to work from home wherever possible. 

The HSE spokesperson said they were “listening to these concerns and working through these with a range of actions”. Last week, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy parliamentary committee said it had received over 2,000 emails from people concerned about workplace safety. In the same evidence session with business secretary Alok Sharma, the committee questioned whether the workload of the HSE had increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

1.35pm Young people twice as likely to work in sectors shut down as a result of coronavirus, report finds

Young people aged 16-24 are twice as likely as the rest of the workforce to be employed in sectors of the economy that are shut down because of the coronavirus crisis, according to a report published today by the Resolution Foundation. The study identified more than six million UK workers employed in sectors that have been ordered to shut down to maintain social distancing safety measures. This includes industries such as hospitality, retail, leisure and the arts. Between 25 and 55 per cent of 16-24 year olds work in these sectors, compared with less than 20 per cent of the rest of the workforce. 

The report also found women were more likely to face the brunt of the health risks posed by the pandemic. More than a third (36 per cent) of working women are in key worker roles in sectors such as health, education and food retail – including two in five working mothers – compared to just 18 per cent of men. This makes women twice as likely to be a key worker than men.

1.20pm Majority of HR avoids furlough as people profession ‘busier than ever’

The majority of HR departments have not had to furlough people in their own teams, a People Management survey has found. The poll found 63 per cent of HR professionals had seen no change to the current headcount of their teams, while an additional 2 per cent reported they were actually planning to grow their HR function. This is despite the vast majority of respondents taking the decision to furlough staff elsewhere in the business.

Katie Jacobs, senior stakeholder lead at the CIPD, said coronavirus had made many HR directors and their teams “busier than ever”, largely because many of the issues the outbreak has created – such as the furlough scheme itself – are to do with people. She said this was an important time for HR to be showing its value and organisational worth. Not just because the workload was so high, but also because of the opportunity it created for HR to push for employers to act ethically and do the right thing around furloughing workers, remote working and supporting mental health.

12.50pm Calls for physiotherapists to be included in government's automatic visa extension scheme

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) has called on the government to extend its automatic visa extension scheme to physiotherapists in order to protect staffing levels across health and social care at the height of the pandemic. There are 3,000 physiotherapists working in the UK who qualified overseas, and the CSP said physiotherapists and physiotherapy support workers are essential throughout the care of patients worst affected by Covid-19 – from intensive care to rehabilitation after discharge.

At the moment, the one-year visa extension scheme applies to doctors, nurses and paramedics who are employed by the NHS on a Tier 2 visa that was previously due to expire before October 2020. It does not cover NHS physiotherapists or other allied health professionals and their families. Rob Yeldham, the CSP's director of strategy, said the UK needs to retain overseas physiotherapy workers to help the healthcare system cope with the “unprecedented increases in demand caused by the crisis in the coming months and years”.

11.10am Airbus to furlough 3,200 staff in Wales after warning it is ‘bleeding cash’

Plane manufacturer Airbus has announced it will furlough more than 3,200 staff working at its site in north Wales. The announcement came yesterday (27 April) after Airbus’s chief executive, Guillaume Faury, warned the company was “bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed”.

Airbus said about half of the staff at its Broughton site would be placed on the UK government's job retention scheme, which pays 80 per cent of wages, and the company will top up salaries by a further five to 10 per cent. Faury also told Airbus’s 135,000 staff around the world to brace for potentially deep job cuts and warned that its survival was at stake without immediate action.

10am Quarter of pregnant NHS workers still working with patients who could have Covid-19, says survey 

A quarter (25 per cent) of pregnant women working in the NHS are still working with patients who could be carrying coronavirus despite being at high risk of being infected themselves, according to a survey by charity Pregnant Then Screwed. A similar proportion (24 per cent) of pregnant NHS workers said they feel unsafe because they are unable to adhere to social distancing at work, and the figure rises to 31 per cent for black, Asian and minority ethnic pregnant healthcare workers. 

Of the 2,150 pregnant women surveyed, 8 per cent reported working in environments they deem as unsafe for them, despite pregnant women being categorised as 'high risk' from coronavirus by the UK government. One pregnant paramedic told Pregnant then Screwed she is in constant contact with frontline staff and had been told by management she could not be protected because she was "not vulnerable [at] under 28 weeks pregnant".

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant then Screwed, said the research showed confusion remains about what employers should be doing during this crisis to protect pregnant workers. She added some pregnant women had told the charity they were suspended on incorrect terms, forced to take statutory sick pay, not being paid, told to start maternity leave early or told to take annual leave. Brearley said: "It is not only crucial that all pregnant women are enabled to socially distance at work, it is also imperative that if pregnant workers are suspended then they are suspended on full pay, otherwise employers are breaking the law.”

8.15am NHS job applications rise amid pandemic

More people applied for jobs in the NHS in the last month than in the same period last year, according to a report by health officials. NHS England said more than 407,000 job applications were submitted in March, a rise of about 13,500 from the same time in 2019.

Prerana Issar, chief people officer at the NHS, said: “The huge support NHS staff have received from the public has been a massive boost as they tackle the greatest global health challenge in the health service’s history. Now, it is clear that many more want to play their part by joining the largest health and care team in the world.”

7.30am Macmillan Cancer Support furloughs 600 staff

Macmillan Cancer Support has furloughed 600 employees as it works to cope with an estimated 50 per cent drop in income as a result of cancelled fundraising events and shop closures because of the pandemic. The charity, which employs about 2,000 people, said the coronavirus outbreak meant some staff had been unable to do their jobs while others had seen a significant fall in their workloads.

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said the effects of the virus were “profound and far-reaching” for the organisation, and the charity had decided to “make the most” of the government's job retention scheme after consultation with staff. She added: “Our people are at the heart of everything we do, and we are confident that we are taking the right steps to protect and support both our staff and our supporters through this period.”

Monday 27 April

4.10pm Small firms given access to taxpayer-backed loans 

Having previously raised concerns about slow access to existing schemes for struggling businesses, small firms are now able to secure 100 per cent taxpayer-backed loans of up to £50,000 within days. 

Speaking at the House of Commons, chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the scheme – the terms of which guarantee that no capital or interest payments will be due for one year – would open next week and would require firms to fill in an online self-certification form. The BBC reported that unlike the existing loan scheme, banks will not retain any of the risk for these loans, which could “stretch” into the billions or tens of billions while the pandemic continues. 

3.40pm UK’s tourist destinations likely to see more job losses owing to Covid-19, report says

Workers in tourism hotspots such as Cornwall, the Lake District and Yorkshire are at the highest risk of losing their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a study from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has warned. 

According to the research, more than a third (35 per cent) of jobs are at risk in the district of Richmondshire in Yorkshire, compared with less than a fifth (19 per cent) in Oxford. The report’s authors, Fabian Wallace-Stephens and Alan Lockey, said the analysis showed a “stark geographical divide in terms of how Covid-19 could impact local labour markets, with rural areas and coastal towns most at risk of high job losses”. 

12pm Furloughed workers receive full parental leave pay entitlement

Furloughed workers set to take parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual salary rather than their furloughed pay rate, the government has announced. 

On Friday, parliament ensured workers whose family-related leave commenced on or after 25 April will have their pay entitlement assessed based on their usual salary, not their furloughed wages. 

11.50am Timpson stores set to reopen in supermarkets

Key-cutting and repair firm Timpson will reopen 40 of its outlets this week. The retailer, which has more than 2,000 shops across the UK, says staff will return to outlets based in supermarkets, which are classified as essential retailers, along with a handful of Timpson Group's high street dry cleaning stores.

Staff will be given face masks, and perspex screens will be installed to separate them from customers at the checkout. But Sir John Timpson, owner and whose family founded the business, said the most important part of reopening stores was the safety of staff. He added: “Until we get there [reopening shops], we don't know how particularly the social distancing is going to work, bearing in mind we've got a shop inside someone else's shop.”

11.30am Airlines urge chancellor to extend job retention scheme past June

UK airlines have written to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, seeking assurance that the government’s wage subsidy scheme will continue to operate past the end of June. 

In a letter seen by Sky News, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said British air travel companies would face a “renewed cash crisis” if the scheme is withdrawn too quickly. He has advocated for a tapering of the scheme or a review on a sectoral basis, to avoid aviation firms facing a “cliff edge post-June”.

9.20am FTSE 100 firms claiming cash through furlough scheme paid bosses £321m in the last five years

The 18 FTSE 100 listed companies that have publicly stated they will be furloughing workers through the government’s job retention scheme paid their chief executives £321m over the last five years, the High Pay Centre has found. 

A report from the think tank said the large companies using the scheme, which included Primark, JD Sports and British Airways owner IAG, paid their leaders an average of £3.6m a year before the coronavirus crisis hit. Luke Hildyard, the High Pay Centre’s director, said the recipients of taxpayer-funded support would face pressure to cut high executive salaries, given that the unprecedented government support also directly benefits businesses and their shareholders.

9am Furloughed employees can reduce tax bill by returning company car

Employees who have a company car and have been furloughed can take thousands off their tax bills by returning their car to their employer, an accountant has said.

Usually access to a company car that is available for personal use is a taxable benefit. But speaking to the Financial Times, John Hood, tax partner at accountancy firm Moore Kingston Smith, said if the car was made unavailable for a period of 30 days then it would no longer be taxable. “If people are stuck at home and not able to use the car anyway… they may as well reduce their tax bill as well,” he told the paper.

8am Bosses appeal to government for a lockdown exit plan

The UK government must set out a lockdown exit plan to restore confidence among British businesses that have been hard hit by the crisis and worried about the economy's future, employers' group the Institute of Directors (IoD) has warned. The IoD said its 28,000 members were “clamouring” for information so they could start drawing up return-to-work plans, but needed further guidance from the government to begin.

Jon Geldart, director general of the IoD, said bosses from all parts of the UK needed to make plans for riding out the crisis, but “they can’t get very far if they have no idea what will be happening in a few weeks’ time”. He added: “Business leaders know [the end of lockdown restrictions] will not happen all in one go, but that’s why it’s even more important to tell them what they need to prepare for.”

7.20am Furloughed workers urged to become fruit pickers

Furloughed workers may be encouraged to work as fruit and vegetable pickers to help farmers fill labour shortages, environment secretary George Eustice has said. In the Number 10 coronavirus briefing on Sunday (26 April), Eustice said only a third of the UK's 70,000 seasonal staff, which is made up primarily of migrant labourers, to pick fruit and vegetables was available. 

He said many more workers would be needed in the summer, and “we are working with industry to identify an approach” to getting furloughed workers to fill the gaps. But Eustice did not go into further detail about how they would be recruited.

Friday 24 April

4.15pm Persimmon announces staff will return to work

Housebuilder Persimmon has announced workers will return to building sites on Monday (27 April), a month after shutting its sites because of the government’s pandemic restrictions. Dave Jenkinson, the firm’s outgoing chief executive, said workers could be removed from sites if they do not adhere to social distancing guidelines.

He said: “Having spent the last month developing and testing new site protocols that incorporate the necessary social distancing and protective measures, we believe that we are now able to return to site safely and support the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”

2.45pm Coronavirus test website closes after high demand

The new government website for key workers to book coronavirus tests has temporarily closed, hours after being opened. The government said the total amount of home testing kits available for today had now been ordered, adding it hoped to have 18,000 kits available each day for key workers by the "end of next week". The website would be back up and running when the next batch of slots become available, it added, reporting that 5,000 home testing kits were ordered in the first two minutes of the website going live and 15,000 tests booked to take place at drive-through sites.

1pm Thousands of workers raising workplace safety concerns, MPs reveal

A parliamentary committee has received thousands of emails from workers concerned about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene facilities and social distancing measures at their places of work. Alan Brown, an SNP MP and member of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) parliamentary committee, said the committee had received over 2,000 emails from people concerned about workplace safety.

Current government guidance states that where it is not possible for staff to remain two metres apart, they should simply “work side by side, or facing away from each other, rather than face to face if possible”. Brown said this guidance was a “giant loophole”, enabling companies to ignore social distancing obligations. But he said he believed, based on conversations with employers, that on the whole businesses were acting responsibly and following the safety guidance set out by the government.

12pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Bank of Ireland

People Managementtalks to Matt Elliott, the Bank of Ireland's chief people officer, to find out what the financial institution is doing to tackle the logistical, financial and staff wellbeing implications of the global pandemic.

11.20am Transport for London furloughs 7,000 staff

About 7,000 Transport for London (TfL) employees will be furloughed through the government's job retention scheme. Staff will initially be furloughed for three weeks and TfL said it will “pay the remainder of salaries of all furloughed employees and continue to pay pension contributions, to ensure people are supported”.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said TfL would be in talks with the government and various trade unions about putting staff on to the furlough scheme, and he hoped for an “urgent agreement”.

10.20am Changes needed to coronavirus loan scheme to avoid redundancies, says Institute of Directors

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has said the coronavirus loan scheme needs to be improved and widened to make finance more easily available to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Almost half (47 per cent) of 900 SME business leaders surveyed said the current loan system is not suitable for their organisation. Those who were able to apply said the procedures are complex, such as needing to provide detailed forecasts, with lengthy processing times, often taking weeks rather than days.

The IoD said the leaders were more likely to reduce operational costs or make redundancies first, rather than take on external finance if they had to improve their financial situation. Tej Parikh, chief economist at the IoD, said the government's furlough scheme is vital to prevent job losses, but “it can’t operate if companies are forced under”.

9.30am One in five NHS workers more likely to quit due to the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak has had a massive impact on the mental health of those working in the healthcare sector, a new report has found. The survey of healthcare professionals, conducted by YouGov for think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), found one in five said the coronavirus outbreak has made them more likely to leave the profession. “Given existing workforce shortages, this could create a catastrophic crisis of capacity in the health and care system,” the report said.

It also found one in two workers reported their mental health has declined in the last eight weeks; the same proportion said they experienced detriment to their family’s safety, and 42 per cent said the government has not done enough to support their mental health.

7.30am Middlesex Cricket opts to furlough players and staff amid coronavirus pandemic

Middlesex Cricket Club has decided to furlough all players, as well as the majority of coaches, professional support and administrative staff under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme to protect the “long-term wellbeing and stability of the club”. Following a consultation, all staff – furloughed or otherwise – with an annual salary above £27,500  agreed a 17 per cent pay cut until the end of May initially. The club's senior management will take a 20 per cent pay cut.

Chief executive Richard Goatley said the club was operating in “unprecedented times”, and they “have to make difficult decisions that not only protect the future of Middlesex Cricket but the jobs of our employees”.  It joins a number of other counties, including Essex, in furloughing players, while others such as Lancashire have confirmed pay cuts for all staff.

7.10am Virus tests now available to millions of key workers

Up to 10 million key workers and their households can now book a coronavirus test on the government's website or through their employer, if they or a family member have virus symptoms. Health secretary Matt Hancock said the expanded testing programme was "part of getting Britain back on her feet". 

Thursday's figures showed 23,560 tests were carried out, and Hancock said capacity had now increased to 51,000 per day – still falling short of the government's target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month.

Thursday 23 April

5.30pm Car, construction and retail firms announce back-to-work plans

Carmakers Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin have joined Taylor Wimpey in announcing they will restart work with social distancing measures, while B&Q reopened 80 of its sites today, taking its total this week to 155. Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant, which employs 9,000 workers, will reopen with a quarter of its workforce at first. Aston Martin Lagonda said it would reopen its factory in St Athan, south Wales, on 5 May with new safety measures. Its chief executive, Andy Palmer, and board members are also taking a 35 per cent pay cut.

Housebuilders Taylor Wimpey and Vistry (formerly known as Bovis) also announced plans today to start building again. The former has drawn up a Covid-19 code of conduct to which all staff, subcontractors and suppliers have to sign up. But many workers have taken to social media to complain maintaining the two metre physical distancing rule is almost impossible on building sites and in work canteens.

2.55pm University of Manchester warns of future staff cuts because of drop in number of students

The University of Manchester has warned job losses may be required for the university to weather the coronavirus crisis as it expects to lose 15-20 per cent of its annual income due to a “major” fall in international students. The university projected a reduction of 80 per cent in all international and 20 per cent in all home or EU students attending classes in the coming year – amounting to a drop of £270m a year in income. 

In a letter to staff, president and vice chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell announced she will be taking a voluntary 20 per cent pay cut, along with other members of her senior leadership team, in recognition of the cash flow problems ahead. But she added further pay cuts or job losses might also be required to help the university continue. She said: “Pay represents well over 50 per cent of our budget so reducing pay costs must be a key part of meeting a major loss of income.”

1.30pm How should HR navigate the furlough scheme’s grey areas?

People Management collates expert advice on the aspects of the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme that are still unclear

12.30pm Tesco to test frontline workers for coronavirus

Testing will be voluntary and only for critical workers currently experiencing symptoms, or for those with symptoms living with critical workers, the supermarket said. It said it will begin to trial testing in an unnamed region this week and hopes to be able to then roll testing out more widely.

11.50am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...BrewDog

People Management talks to Karen Bates, people director BrewDog, about how the multinational brewery and pub chain is tackling the logistical, financial and staff wellbeing implications of the global pandemic

8.45am Cath Kidston agrees to hand over pay owed to UK staff

Cath Kidston has agreed to hand over three weeks of back pay owed to staff after making them redundant less than a week before pay day. Just over 900 people who were made redundant on Tuesday (21 April), with immediate effect, were told they would not be paid the salaries due to them this Friday (24 April). The U-turn came after an outcry from workers, with chief executive, Melinda Paraie, writing to those made redundant to say they would be paid for the period between 1 April and 20 April and those who had previously been notified of being furloughed would receive 80 per cent of their usual salary up to the £2,500 cap.

8.30am Essential workers being ‘ripped off for petrol’

Essential workers, including NHS staff, are being overcharged by petrol companies by more than £5 a tank, the AA has claimed. The price of oil has crashed in recent days, leaving the wholesale price of petrol bobbing around the 16p a litre mark, according to the AA. But the average pump price for unleaded has remained around the £1.10 mark. "Our essential workers need honestly-priced fuel, so they are not under even more financial pressure to help us all,” said Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK campaign.

8.04am Student nurses in Wales asked to work or suspend studies

Trainee nurses in Wales are being asked to opt-in to work and fight the coronavirus or face pausing their studies. According to a report seen by BBC Wales, second year students or those in the first six months of their final year who do not want to treat coronavirus patients will have to suspend their training or potentially switch courses.

The report, issued by the Welsh government in conjunction with Health Education and Improvement Wales, invited students to spend 80 per cent of their time in clinical practice fighting Covid-19, and the remainder in academic studies. The report added the “significant pressures on the [healthcare] system and the need to ensure that front-line services are fully supported” meant it is “not possible to continue to provide the current programme for students in these years of study”.

Wednesday 22 April

3.10pm More than 285,000 businesses have claimed for furloughed employees

According to HMRC, more than 285,000 organisations have applied for help through the government’s job retention scheme since the portal opened for claims on Monday morning. 

The scheme allows businesses to claim 80 per cent of a furloughed employee’s salary up to £2,500 per month. With demand expected to be high, HMRC has said the claims portal can handle up to 450,000 claims an hour. 

2.50pm TfL 'may run out of money’ to pay staff by end of month

Transport for London (TfL) could run out of money to keep running and pay staff unless the government offers support within the coming days. Speaking to BBC Radio London, mayor of London Sadiq Khan said income from fares has gone down since the government-mandated lockdown, and TfL has been using cash reserves to keep running and pay staff.  Almost half (47 per cent) of TfL’s income was generated by fares in 2019-2020, but the lockdown has meant passenger numbers have dropped by 95 per cent. 

Khan warned services could be cut “because we can’t pay people” unless the government stepped in to offer support. He admitted that TfL’s current reserves would only last “probably [until the] end of this month”.

12.40pm Cath Kidston to close all UK stores with loss of more than 900 jobs

Vintage-inspired retail chain Cath Kidston has axed 908 staff members with immediate effect after the company said it was permanently closing all 60 of its UK stores. Cath Kidston warned it was set to call in administrators earlier this month after it failed to find a buyer for the brand. Chief executive Melinda Paraie said it was unable to secure a sale that would have allowed the brand to carry on trading in its current form against the backdrop of the pandemic.

The company employed 941 people in the UK, 820 of whom were furloughed on 22 March under the government scheme. A handful of jobs will be saved to allow Cath Kidston to continue trading online. 

12.30pm Union demands wage increase for supermarket ‘heroes’

Paddy Lillis, leader of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, has said retail workers deserve to earn a minimum of £10 an hour, and predicted a “day of reckoning” on pay and conditions after the coronavirus crisis. 

Lillis told the BBC workers should be rewarded for risking their health to keep people fed and watered during the pandemic, adding that “retail workers don't get the respect they deserve". However, the British Retail Consortium said now was "not the right time" to ask for a wage increase, noting that retailers had seen the worst ever decline in footfall in March.

8.25am Seven in 10 UK firms have furloughed staff, BCC survey reveals

Seven in 10 (71 per cent) of private firms have furloughed employees in response to the coronavirus lockdown, according to a British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) survey. This is up from 66 per cent of businesses that said the same in a previous BCC poll. The BCC said the findings showed a growing number of companies were using the job retention scheme, with more mulling access. Nearly one third (30 per cent) of the 678 businesses surveyed said they had furloughed between 75 and 100 per cent of their workforce, and 28 per cent had furloughed no staff. 

Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said this was a “crunch week” for businesses relying on the scheme to pay staff, and HMRC's capacity to deal with the demand from businesses had been “encouraging so far”. He added: “Ministers will also need to consider keeping the scheme in place for longer, to help businesses transition as the lockdown is eased and the economy moves gradually toward a new normal.”

7.25am 1,300 permanent layoffs in Northern Ireland's tourism sector

Almost 1,300 tourism workers in Northern Ireland have permanently lost their jobs and a further 9,000 have been furloughed, according to a survey by Tourism Northern Ireland. The organisation said it has “major concerns” about the long-term effect coronavirus was having on the sector. 

Half of the 1,300 businesses that responded to the survey had reduced the number of staff in their organisation, and the poll revealed thousands of workers were furloughed, laid off or made temporarily redundant across 427 firms. Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the group intends to use the information collated through this survey to inform government considerations regarding current and future business support: “It is clear, however, that further, ongoing support and guidance will be required to allow many businesses to survive.”

Tuesday 21 April

4.40pm Parliament resumes with new ‘hybrid’ way of working

In new working arrangements agreed by MPs, parliament has resumed with a maximum of 50 MPs allowed inside the chamber, sitting apart from each other to comply with social distancing guidelines. 

Dubbed a ‘hybrid’ parliament, screens installed around the House of Commons will allow up to 120 MPs to take part in debates via video conference as of Wednesday. These measures will be in place until at least 12 May, although this could be extended. Other changes that have been implemented to allow parliamentary business to continue during the coronavirus pandemic include reduced sitting hours and virtual committee meetings.

12.25pm High street food chains ask chancellor for rent holiday

High street restaurants including Burger King have asked the government for a nine-month rent holiday during the coronavirus crisis. Burger King UK chief executive Alasdair Murdoch told the BBC Today programme that the company had not made its rent payments for April, and he couldn’t see them doing so for some time. 

Bar owner Jonathan Downey has said without a rent holiday for hospitality companies such as his, up to two million industry jobs could be at risk. Other chains, including Wahaca and Nando’s, have also signed a letter to the chancellor, asking that restaurants that have been ordered to close by the government pay no rent until the first quarter of 2021. 

11.16am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Siemens Healthineers

People Managementtalks to managing director Peter Harrison on how the medical device manufacturer has ramped up production of vital blood gas analysers, lent ventilator expertise and given staff paid leave to volunteer for the NHS.

10.55am John Lewis and Waitrose furlough 14,000 staff

John Lewis Partnership, which owns the department store and supermarket chain Waitrose, has furloughed 14,000 staff as part of efforts to cut costs during the coronavirus pandemic. The group said the workers had been furloughed largely because of the closure of all 50 John Lewis department stores.

In a letter to staff, chairman Sharon White said the partnership had survived “a world war and bombings, economic crashes and crises”, and was confident it would “emerge stronger” through the Covid-19 crisis. She added that all frontline staff would receive a one-off bonus of £200 in recognition of their hard work during the pandemic. 

10.30am Cancelled or delayed graduate schemes hit young people’s job prospects

Some of the UK’s largest employers, including Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and PwC, are amending, delaying or cancelling recruitment schemes and internships this year because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to an Institute of Student Employers survey, 27 per cent of firms reported that they would be reducing the number of graduates they hire this year as a result of the crisis. Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, warned that “youth employment prospects are crumbling” because of such recruitment freezes. 

9.20am UK employment rate at record high before lockdown, says ONS 

Recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures have shown 76.6 per cent of people aged 16 to 64 were in paid work before lockdown measures were brought in, up from 76.4 per cent in the previous quarter. Early estimates for March showed a drop of 0.06 per cent in the number of paid employees compared with February.  

David Freeman, ONS head of labour market statistics, said: "For the first time, we have brought forward information on the number of employees in work using PAYE data to cover a more recent period.” Next month's figures are expected to reflect a lockdown-related downturn. 

9.16am Primark boss says 68,000 staff across Europe have been furloughed

Clothing retailer Primark has reported that 68,000 employees are currently receiving furlough payments from governments across Europe, without which the chain would have been forced to make most redundant. The announcement came as Primark revealed its sales had gone from £650m per month to nothing as the coronavirus crisis has forced it to close stores across Europe and the US.

Chief executive George Weston said: “When we are allowed to reopen, we must make our Primark stores safe for our staff and our customers, even if that means ensuring there are fewer people shopping at any one time and so accepting lower sales at least until the remaining risk is minimal. In time we can rebuild the profits. We can’t replace the people we lose.”

8.30am UK farm worker candidates complain of frustrated applications

British applicants for jobs harvesting crops have said farmers have made it virtually impossible for them to secure the work despite a national appeal for a ‘land army’ to save the UK’s fruit and vegetables, the Guardian has revealed. 

Offers of onsite accommodation in which three or four workers share a caravan were among the most frequent complaints on social media and in emails to the Guardian, after reports that thousands of British workers had turned down jobs and Romanians were being flown in to pick salad. Genevieve Black, in south Wales, told the newspaper she had been unsuccessful in applications for 10 jobs despite being willing to live on site in Kent, Hampshire or Scotland. “The idea that Brits are too lazy to work on farms is just not true,” she said.

8.20am Job security and financial wellbeing confidence drops

Despite chancellor Rishi Sunak’s furloughing scheme to subsidise wages now having formally opened, IHS Markit analysis showed the fastest drop in confidence since the survey began during the last recession in early 2009. The household finance index, which measures overall perceptions of wellbeing, fell from 42.5 in March to 34.9 in April. 

The survey found perceptions of job security had dropped to their lowest on record. People working in the education, health or social care sectors were least worried, while those in media, culture and entertainment were the most concerned about their employment prospects.

8.07am List of Northern Ireland essential workers published 

A list of essential workers has been published by the Northern Ireland Executive. They include food and personal protective equipment producers, newsagents, bicycle shops, vehicle repair garages, transport workers, food delivery and takeaway businesses, media workers, scientific researchers, lawyers and laboratory and analytical services. 

The list was drawn up by a forum chaired by the Labour Relations Agency, the Chamber of Commerce, CBI, trade unions and the Public Health Agency, and was approved by ministers on Monday (20 April). Economy minister Diane Dodds said the list is for advisory purposes to allow companies to make their own decisions, adding: “If a company can work within the social distancing guidelines, then it should do so.”

7.48am Coronavirus leaves Scottish care homes without enough staff

A dozen care homes in Scotland do not have enough staff to meet the needs of their residents, and nearly one in five have flagged concerns over staffing levels since 3 April, according to official figures from the Care Inspectorate. The vast majority of these homes are now properly resourced after seeking support from the Scottish government, but 31 are still graded as ‘only just able to provide’ the right staffing levels. The Care Inspectorate found a further 12 care homes “no longer have adequate levels”.

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of trade body Scottish Care, said: “I actually think things were worse at the end of March and into early April but the picture is an improving one, notwithstanding some extreme cases.” Meanwhile, the Scottish government has revealed more than 2,600 people have applied to work in social care since a recruitment drive for the sector was launched in the wake of the crisis.

Monday 20 April

5.10pm More than 140,000 application in first day of furlough

As of 4pm this afternoon more than 140,000 firms had applied for the furlough scheme, helping pay the wages of more than one million people, the chancellor has said. Speaking at today’s daily briefing, Rishi Sunak said: “The goal of the new scheme we’ve developed is to maintain as many people as possible in their existing jobs… to maintain, in other words, our economy’s productive capacity so we can bridge through this current crisis.”

4.55pm Coronavirus could see 59 million European jobs put at risk, report says

Up to 59 million jobs across the UK and Europe could be put at risk as a result of lockdown measures, a report by consultancy McKinsey has said. Social distancing measures, while central to containing the spread of Covid-19, have already seen huge numbers of workers at risk of pay cuts, temporary layoffs or redundancy. 

According to the firm’s analysts, if severe restrictions on work and travel continue through the summer, EU unemployment could double to 11.2 per cent by next year and would be unlikely to return to pre-crisis levels until 2024.

12.08pm TfL set to furlough workers amid record-low passenger numbers

Transport for London (TfL) will be using the government’s job retention scheme to furlough some of its workforce, as travel on public transport in the capital has plummeted because of lockdown restrictions. Passenger numbers on London Underground have dropped by 95 per cent, while travel on London busses has dropped 85 per cent. 

In a leaked staff email seen by the Daily Mirror, TfL commissioner Mike Brown said the coronavirus lockdown measures had come "at a huge financial cost to us in reduced fare and other revenue”. It is not clear how many staff will be temporarily laid off, but workers in a range of roles will be furloughed from 27 April until the end of May. 

11.10am Care home staff ‘face 240-mile round trip for coronavirus testing’ 

Staff at Bournemouth-based Encore Care Homes are having to make a 240-mile round trip to Gatwick for drive-through coronavirus testing, a move that its chief executive describes as “very unfair”. 

Rachel Dryden, chief executive of Encore, said the intent to put social care workers “on par with NHS staff is a farce” as NHS staff can get tested at local hospitals. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman told the BBC it was working to launch “around 50 regional test sites” by the end of April, alongside developing a home-testing kit. 

10.10am Furlough portal receives more than 60,000 claims in first 30 minutes

Within half an hour of the job retention scheme portal opening this morning, 67,000 applications have been made. Jim Harra, head of HMRC, told the BBC that while the portal was receiving a significant volume of claims, it has the capacity to accommodate up to 450,000 claims per hour. 

"If every employer tries to use it this morning some will be asked to queue or come back later – that doesn’t mean the system has crashed, it simply means it’s full,” he said. 

8.49am B&Q to reopen 14 stores to trial social distancing

DIY chain B&Q is slowly reopening some of its stores to trial social distancing measures. B&Q stores have been closed since the end of March, and customers have only been able to use click and collect services to buy goods. But the retailer said it is now in a position to reopen a number of stores on a trial basis and “follow best practice” on hygiene and social distancing measures to keep staff and customers safe. 

8.45am Half of frontline care workers paid less than living wage

More than half of social care workers are paid below the real cost of living, according to analysis by the Resolution Foundation. It found some one million workers were paid less than the real living wage of £10.75 an hour in London and £9.30 an hour across the rest of the UK, as set by the Living Wage Foundation.

Among the lowest-rung roles in private care companies in England, as many as 90 per cent of workers were paid below the real living wage last year, it said. Tens of thousands also appear to be being paid illegally below the national minimum wage.

8.30am UK firms urged to hold virtual AGMs

Charity ShareAction has written to FTSE 100 chairs after finding two in three annual meetings announced so far are set to be held with just the minimum of participants. It called on firms to hold virtual AGMs in 2020, allowing for real-time questioning from shareholders followed by voting to be replicated online. Some companies, such as Taylor Wimpey and Unilever, have already said they will host a ‘hybrid’ annual meeting, with an online component.

7.45am Workers without university degree hardest hit by Covid-19 crisis, says study

Workers without a university degree will be hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, according to a study by consultancy firm McKinsey. The research found almost 80 per cent of workers facing job insecurity in the wake of the crisis – including cuts to hours or pay, being furloughed or made redundant – do not have a university degree. Those most at risk include retail staff, cooks, actors, construction workers and office support staff.

McKinsey said this job risk is “highly correlated” with a worker's level of education, and it could potentially exacerbate existing social inequalities in the UK and Europe. The study found ‘low insecurity' occupations include workers who either do not need to work in close proximity to others – such as accountants, architects and journalists – or those who work in key services such as healthcare staff, police, food production, education, public transport and utilities.

7.33am Hundreds of firms to stop pension top-ups over coronavirus

Hundreds of companies are expected to stop pension employer ‘top up’ contribution schemes during the coronavirus crisis, according to a leading pension consultancy firm. The finding from pension experts LCP estimated that more than 500 companies will take advantage of an emergency measure under which employers and the trustees of pensions can agree to businesses putting off paying contributions to staff pensions for up to three months. 

Jill Ampleford, partner at LCP, said: "The ability to agree with trustees a delay in making pension contributions will help firms to weather the present storm and continue their support to the scheme in the long term." The Pensions Regulator said it was vital to support businesses through the crisis and, where one did fail, staff would be supported by the UK's Pension Protection Fund.

7.18am Millions to claim as government job retention scheme site goes live

The government job retention scheme is set to open for applications today (Monday 20 April). Under the coronavirus job retention scheme, the government will cover 80 per cent of workers' wages, up to £2,500 a month, if they are put on leave.

The Treasury has said the system, which goes live at 8am, can process up to 450,000 applications an hour, and employers should receive the money within six working days of making an application. On Friday (17 April), chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the scheme would be extended by a further month, until the end of June.

Friday 17 April

4.15pm Furlough scheme extended to end of June

The Treasury has announced that the job retention scheme will be extended by a month and will now continue to the end of June.

The move comes the day after the current lockdown measures were extended for a further three weeks. Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, said: “With the extension of the coronavirus lockdown measures yesterday, it is the right decision to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.

“It is vital for people’s livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so, and I will continue to review the scheme so it is supporting our recovery.”

2.35pm Furloughed Virgin Atlantic call centre staff to handle 999 calls in south east

Furloughed Virgin Atlantic call centre employees are being trained as 999 call handlers to deal with increased demand in the south east. The Virgin Atlantic staff are undergoing an accelerated training programme before “going live” at the Crawley headquarters of the South East Coast Ambulance Service. 

Corneel Koster, chief customer officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We are very proud of our highly skilled people at Virgin Atlantic and since the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme was announced, we have been inundated with our people looking to help other organisations at this time of crisis." Virgin Atlantic staff are also working with London Ambulance Service, Epsom Hospital and the London Nightingale Hospital.

2.30pm The government’s updated furlough guidance

Melanie Lane and Tracey Marsden analyse the latest clarifications to the coronavirus job retention scheme, including who qualifies and what employers can claim for.

2.20pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …Wiltshire Council

As part of a series of pieces looking at what employers are responding to the global pandemic, People Managementtalks to Joanne Pitt, director of HR and OD at Wiltshire Council, to find how they are tackling the business and HR implications of Covid-19.

2pm Fifth of workers furloughed on average, ONS figures show

Among organisations that continued trading since lockdown began, on average 21 per cent of their workforces had been furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme, the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data suggested. Businesses also had an average of 5 per cent of their staff either off sick or self-isolating due to coronavirus, while 70 per cent of their workforce continued carrying out their roles as normal.

Daniel Tomlinson, economist at think tank the Resolution Foundation, said the data demonstrated “just how important the government’s job retention scheme is, particularly for those on lower incomes”. But, he said, the scheme only offered support for employees whose work had dried up completely, and there was little help for workers who had seen a decrease in working hours.

According to the ONS figures, almost three in 10 (28.5 per cent) businesses had decreased staff working hours in response to the pandemic, and two-fifths (40.5 per cent) had reduced staffing levels in the short term.

12.10pm Coronavirus testing extended to firefighters, police, DWP and prison staff

Testing for Covid-19 has now been expanded to include the police, firefighters, prison staff and workers at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the health secretary has announced. Speaking with the Health and Social Care committee today, Matt Hancock said that the list had been expanded due to the “growing capacity” for testing in the UK. 

The list for workers who can be tested now also includes critical local authority staff and the judiciary. Previously, patients, NHS and social care staff and some local resilience forum (LRF) workers were deemed eligible for testing. However, Hancock said those without symptoms may also soon be added to the list: “We have an order of priority, and we are running through it, and it includes the suggestion made that we should also test asymptomatic people in hospitals and care homes as part of a survey strand which goes along side all of this.”

11.45am Local and national newspapers could close without government support, says journalists’ union

National and local newspapers could close unless the government intervenes to support the media industry as many titles are struggling in the face of the coronavirus, according to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). The NUJ has called on the government for an immediate windfall tax to help support the journalism industry and help retain staff through the crisis. 

Media analysts at Enders Analysis previously warned the British news industry would be hit hard by the pandemic and the expected economic uncertainty that will follow, with the loss of thousands of journalists’ jobs. And earlier this month, Reach, the UK's largest regional news group, announced it plans to furlough a fifth of its workforce and ask the remainder to take a pay cut to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

10.20am Refugees among hundreds of overseas medics to respond to NHS call

Hundreds of foreign-born doctors, including refugees, have signed up to become medical support workers as part of a new scheme to help the NHS tackle the coronavirus pandemic. NHS England launched the initiative for international medical graduates and doctors after calls to fast track the accreditation of overseas medics to alleviate the pressurised healthcare sector in the UK.

The NHS plans to deploy the workers in small numbers initially. Refugee organisations have described the scheme as a good “first step”, but they urged the government and the General Medical Council to find alternative solutions to allow refugees to work as doctors, saying the current process is too long and expensive.

9.25am Surgical masks 'provide no meaningful protection' for police staff, says federation

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has claimed new personal protective equipment for officers will not provide any “meaningful protection”. Police Scotland announced earlier this month staff would be given surgical face masks to wear when it is not possible to adhere to social distancing measures. But the SPF claimed the scientific case for the PPE had not been made and refused to endorse them.

SPF chairman David Hamilton said: “Our panel is unanimous in its views that the primary aim of the surgical mask is to prevent the wearer from infecting anyone else; and that they offer little effective barrier to the wearer from contracting the virus.”

8.45am Vauxhall puts measures in place to protect staff as it restarts production

Carmaker Vauxhall is planning to restart production after putting in place new staff safety measures. Staff will clean workstations every hour, wear personal protective equipment including face masks, and remain two metres apart at all times which plant managers hope will allow its factory at Ellesmere Port, on the Wirral, to run at about 85 per cent of capacity.

8.30am Foxtons cuts pay for high earners

Employees of estate agent Foxtons earning more than £40,000 have been asked to take a 20 per cent pay cut for April and May. All its branches have been closed since 23 March and about 750 employees were furloughed two days later under the coronavirus job retention scheme. Executive directors will also take a voluntary 20 per cent reduction in base pay until at least the end of May.

8.15am Nearly one in 10 British military personnel absent from frontline due to coronavirus

About 13,000 military personnel – 9 per cent – are absent from frontline duties because they are self-isolating, working from home or caring for vulnerable family members due to coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The MoD stressed that many who are absent were still “contributing to defence” by working remotely. 

Officials said the absences have not affected the Covid Support Force, which is helping to boost public services including the NHS, nor British military deployments overseas. The MoD added fewer than 100 members of the armed forces have tested positive for the virus, although it did not not say how many had been tested.

7.45am Start-ups and larger companies set for extra UK bailout funds to protect jobs

New emergency measures designed to keep businesses operating through the coronavirus crisis are set to be unveiled by the government, with packages aimed at some of the largest companies in the UK as well as start-ups. Chancellor Rishi Sunak will today launch a loan scheme for companies in the “squeezed middle” that are unable to access the existing programmes the government launched shortly after lockdown started on 23 March.

Companies with a turnover of more than £45m will be able to access state-backed bank loans of up to £50m, with no upper limit on the size of the businesses able to access the scheme. The Treasury is also working on separate proposals for start-ups. Sunak said: “I want to ensure that no viable business slips through our safety net of support as we help protect jobs and the economy.”

7.15am Care home workers move into campervans to stop spread of Covid-19

Thirteen staff at Isobel Fraser Home in Inverness have moved into campervans outside the home in a bid to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading to residents and their families. Kirstie Paterson, one of the staff members staying in the campervans, said the workers agreed to stay in the three vans for the duration of the lockdown so they could cut down on the amount of movement to and from the home. She said: “We have got the perfect continuity of care for the residents, which is obviously a big thing especially when there are so many scary things on the news just now.”

Simon Cole Hamilton, deputy chairman of the trust running the home, said life in the campervans will be hard work, adding: “They are giving up their home lives, their private lives and it is asking a lot of them.”

Thursday 16 April

5.10pm Lockdown to be extended by three weeks

The current social distancing measures are to be extended for at least another three weeks, first secretary of state Dominic Raab has said. Raab said the current measures were helping, but added: “Any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus.

“Early relaxation would cause more harm to the economy over a longer period.” 

5pm EU to ban executive bonuses for state-rescued firms

Businesses rescued by EU state share-buying programmes during the coronavirus pandemic will be barred from paying executives bonuses, according to a leaked document from the European commission seen by the Guardian. If backed by the EU’s 27-member states, the rules would apply to the UK as, under the Brexit transition period – which is due to end on 31 December – the UK follows all EU rules but cannot help decide them. The restrictions would extend to dividend payments and share buybacks.

4.45pm Education, hospitality and construction jobs most at risk, says OBR

Education will be the sector hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, according to Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) analysis, with a 90 per cent reduction in output and the impact likely to be felt most by universities. More than half of staff in the sector are in insecure employment, so especially vulnerable. The OBR forecasts an 85 per cent reduction in output for hospitality and 70 per cent decrease in construction.

4.30pm Areas most reliant on aviation jobs will be hardest hit by Covid-19, study finds

Jobs in cities and towns that depend on the aviation industry and aircraft manufacturing will be most under threat from the coronavirus crisis, according to research by Centre for Cities, with one in five jobs in these areas vulnerable. The economy of Crawley, near Gatwick airport, is likely to be hardest hit, the report states. Other areas facing the biggest impact include Luton and Derby, with Oxford, Worthing and Bradford among the areas where job losses are likely to be most limited. 

1pm Government must do 'everything it can' to protect armed forces personnel working to fight coronavirus, says minister

The shadow defence secretary has called on the government to do “everything it can” to protect the British armed forces from coronavirus. A growing number of armed forces personnel are helping carry out a number of frontline tasks, such as assisting the emergency delivery of protective equipment, oxygen and ventilators for hospitals and working alongside ambulance services.

John Healey wrote to the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, calling for more armed forces personnel to be tested for the virus – with priority given to the government's 23,000-strong Covid Support Force – and postponing large-scale training exercises to prevent outbreaks. A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "The safety and wellbeing of our people is of the utmost importance, and we have issued advice in line with the guidance from PHE and the NHS. We keep our advice and procedures under constant review.”

12.15pm Fifth of workers furloughed, ONS reports

Businesses that are continuing to trade during the coronavirus lockdown are furloughing a fifth of their workforce on average, according to the Office for National Statistics

According to data collected on over 5,000 businesses for the period between 23 March to 5 April, on average businesses continuing to trade furloughed 21 per cent of their staff under the government’s Job Retention Scheme. On average, 70 per cent of trading businesses’ employees were reported to be working as normal, while 5 per cent were off sick or in self-isolation due to coronavirus. 

11am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …Waterstones 

As part of a series of pieces looking at what employers are responding to the global pandemic, People Management talks to Andy Stephenson, HR director of Waterstones, to find out how the book retailer is tackling the business and HR implications of Covid-19.

10.30am Furlough scheme must be updated to cope with a longer lockdown, think tank warns

The government’s Job Retention Scheme should be reformed in order to manage the economic impacts of a three, six or even 12-month lockdown, the Resolution Foundation has said. 

In its report, Doing more of what it takes, the think tank has predicted a six-month lockdown could lead to unemployment averaging five million in 2021 as the furlough scheme is phased out. It has called for the programme to be adapted so that workers could return to work part-time, if it is safe to do so, and said the government will need to prepare to tackle higher unemployment through training and support for those who find themselves without a job following the lockdown.

9.30am Romanian farm workers flown to UK to pick crops due to labour shortage 

Farm workers from Romania are being flown into the UK to pick fruit and vegetables, after British farmers feared crops could be left to rot due to a lack of labour.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said the country needed a modern-day “land army” of up to 70,000 fruit and vegetable pickers to avoid food going to waste. Air Charter Service confirmed the first flight of six, carrying 150 seasonal workers from eastern Romania, will land at London Stansted Airport today, to quash concerns raised by farmers that the UK may fail to bring the harvest in without EU workers.

The workers – who already had their temperatures taken in the city of Iași before boarding the flight – will be transported by minibus to East Anglia to pick lettuce. 

9.20am Major UK food chains to reopen for takeaway in select areas

Burger King, KFC and Pret A Manger are opening certain restaurants around the country for delivery only. Government guidelines state that while restaurants and pubs have to close, they can prepare food for collection or delivery. The chains had decided to temporarily close as the lockdown took effect.

Staff in the re-opened restaurants will wear masks and gloves, and be trained in running delivery-only kitchens hygienically and while social distancing. The restaurants will also donate meals to NHS staff working in the vicinity of the reopened restaurants.

9.10am Ford tests social distancing wristbands for workplace

A team of employees at a Ford factory in Michigan are testing wearable devices designed to alert wearers if they are getting too close to a colleague, Bloomberg reported. Ford said the wristbands, which vibrate if workers come closer than the two metres recommended by health experts, could become part of a broader set of safety protocols adopted by the car manufacturer as it prepares to resume production in the US as early as next month.

Wednesday 15 April 

4.10pm Furlough cut-off date extended to 19 March

The cut-off date by which employees needed to be on payroll to be eligible for the government’s job retention scheme has been extended to 19 March: a move the government has said would make thousands more people eligible. Initially workers needed to be employed by an organisation before 28 February to be eligible for furlough as a measure to prevent fraudulent claims, however the government said following a review of the process it has moved this date to the day before the scheme was announced.

3.50pm CBI warns of redundancies if job retention scheme is not extended

The Confederation of British Industry has expressed concern that businesses could be forced to make furloughed staff permanently redundant if the future of the scheme isn’t clarified before 18 April. 

The portal for organisations to claim wages for temporarily laid off staff is due to open from next Monday, but the CBI has said that if businesses are unable to keep workers on past the scheme’s current closure at the end of May, they would have to start redundancy procedures this weekend in order to comply with the minimum 45-day consultation period. 

HMRC chief executive Jim Harra told the BBC Today Programme the scheme will be extended if necessary, and that he was confident firms would be able to receive payments before the end of the month. 

2.30pm Firefighters to help healthcare workers with PPE fitting and deliver groceries to vulnerable 

Firefighters across the country will take on additional duties during the coronavirus pandemic to assist healthcare workers and the communities they serve, according to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC). The NFCC said firefighters will make sure healthcare workers’ masks are fitted correctly, deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical teams, help ambulance services by offering assistance as drivers and support the most vulnerable through food deliveries. 

Roy Wilsher, chairman of the NFCC, said: “We are very proud of crews and other staff for stepping forward, using their wide-range of capabilities and skills to ensure community reassurance and support, while continuing to respond to emergencies, during Covid 19.” James Brokenshire, Home Office minister for security, welcomed the campaign saying the fire and rescue services have a “crucial role to play in the response to Coronavirus and keeping us all safe”.

2pm Norwegian Air's UK pilots and cabin crew will not receive April salary

Pilots and cabin crew employed in the UK by Norwegian Air have been told they will not receive their April salary because the airline does not have the money to pay them. The airline asked its 1,000 UK air crew to accept significant pay cuts or redundancy at the end of March, but staff have been told the airline has “no readily available funds to pay any employees on this coming payday”. 

In a letter seen by the Guardian, the airline has not “been able to secure the Norwegian government support package as of yet and hence has had to take drastic measures to survive up until May.”Norwegian Air said it will apply for the government’s furlough scheme to cover staff wages when it opens on 20 April but does not have the funds to pay workers in the interim.

1pm One in four top bosses has taken a pay cut in wake of Covid-19, research reveals

One in four of the biggest companies in the UK has cut the amount paid to chief executives as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to research. 

A survey and analysis of FTSE 100 company announcements by the High Pay Centre, shared with the PA News Agency, found bosses at 25 of the UK’s top companies had reduced their salaries and fees by 20 per cent – the same proportion many furloughed workers have forfeited (where their employer hasn’t topped up the 80 per cent of salary covered by the government’s job retention scheme).

However, the report found one company had not yet announced plans to cut its chief executive’s pay, despite sending staff home. Meanwhile, three other businesses were still paying shareholder dividends. 

12.30pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …Total Produce

As part of a series of pieces looking at what employers are doing to tackle the logistical, financial and staff wellbeing implications of the global pandemic, People Management talks to David Frost, organisational development director at Total Produce.

11.30am Ministers urged to raise pay for care home staff during Covid-19 crisis

Workers in care homes need an urgent pay rise and more robust protection against the coronavirus, union leaders and employers have told the government. St John Care Trust, one of the largest charitable providers of care homes in the UK, has written to care minister Helen Whateley calling for a government-funded £11.50 hourly minimum wage for frontline workers in social care for the duration of the pandemic.

Care bosses believe the temporary state-funded boost to wages is needed to put care workers, who are often on minimum wage, on a par with other key workers in supermarkets and delivery drivers. The Scottish government has already announced a 3.3 per cent pay rise for care workers backdated to 1 April in recognition of their role in tackling Covid-19. 

11am Amazon US fires two employees for circulating coronavirus petition 

Amazon US has dismissed two employees for internally circulating a petition on warehouse worker health and safety amid the pandemic. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to the Guardian that user experience designers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa were fired for “repeatedly violating internal policies” that prohibit employees from “commenting publicly” on its business without approval or corporate justification. 

The Guardian alleged that Amazon also censored a virtual event allowing warehouse workers to share concerns on working during the pandemic, deleting all invitations and emails, despite thousands of employees confirming attendance. 

10am Reversal on Scottish coronavirus business grants

Scottish small businesses will now be able to claim extra grants to support them through the coronavirus pandemic, as Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes announced an extra £100m of funding for businesses and the self-employed. 

Grants in Scotland were issued on a one-per-business basis, rather than one per property, as is the system in England and Wales. This means all companies were eligible for the same amount of funding, regardless of how many properties they ran. Now businesses can add a further 75 per cent grant for each extra property they run to their initial payment. However, Forbes urged organisations to only claim help if “absolutely necessary”. 

8.55am Entertainment industry helps build Cardiff field hospital

Entertainment and event professionals have been helping turn the Principality Stadium in Cardiff into a field hospital to treat coronavirus patients. Theatre and lighting technicians who usually build festival sites and TV sets are among those helping to put power into beds and create kitchens.

Tom Feierabend, director of T&M Technical Services, said they were asked because they construct festival sites and suchlike at speed. He said: “TV and film set companies are building backboards for beds, theatre technicians are running in power for beds and events crew are building marquees and putting down floors.”

8.30am More tests promised for care homes

All care home staff and residents with Covid-19 symptoms will be tested as laboratory capacity increases, the government has promised. Health secretary Matt Hancock said he was “determined” to ensure everyone who needed a test had access to one. 

It comes after the government confirmed there had been coronavirus outbreaks at more than 2,000 care homes in England – although the government did not specify the number of deaths that had occurred. Age UK, Marie Curie, Care England, Independent Age and the Alzheimer's Society have written to Hancock demanding a care package to support social care through the pandemic.

Tuesday 14 April

5.30pm Chancellor responds to OBR economic and unemployment predictions

Responding during the government’s daily press conference to today's economic outlook from the UK Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that Britain's economy could shrink by 35 per cent in the second quarter and see unemployment jump by two million, chancellor Rishi Sunak said "these are tough times" and it will be impossible to protect every household and business. But he said the OBR has been "clear" the situation would have been "much worse" without government action announced so far.

The increase in joblessness forecast by the OBR would take the unemployment rate to 10 per cent: a level not seen since the early 1990s. The rate currently stands at 3.9 per cent.

4.30pm Oasis and Warehouse to fall into administration, putting 2,300 jobs at risk

The owner of the brands had been in talks to sell the businesses before the coronavirus outbreak, but the crisis, which has seen many shops temporarily close, has worsened the situation. The fashion retailers are expected to appoint Deloitte as administrators, with it unclear how many jobs ultimately could be saved. After the administration begins, Deloitte is expected to furlough many staff.

2.55pm UK firms at risk of making 'permanent' job cuts, CBI says 

Businesses are at risk of “permanently” getting rid of staff unless the government provides clarity over whether it will extend its job retention scheme, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said. The CBI said it is worried companies will be forced to start redundancy procedures this Saturday (18 April) to comply with the minimum 45-day consultation period unless the government planned to extend the Job Retention Scheme. The government's scheme is slated to run until 1 June.

CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn told the BBC's Today programme: “We are very concerned that businesses will be forced into a position potentially of having to make people permanently redundant.” She called on the government to provide clarity about extending the national coronavirus lockdown and scheme so firms are better able to plan. 

1.40pm More than a quarter of jobs have changed as a result of coronavirus, poll reveals

More than one in four workers have seen their job role change as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, a survey by Haymarket Business Media has found, with alterations including pay cuts and staff being furloughed. In a poll of 20,489 people, 5,851 respondents (29 per cent) reported their job had either changed or been placed at risk as a result of the pandemic.

The most common change seen to job roles was pay cuts, with 31 per cent of those experiencing a change in their work taking a drop in salary. Similarly, 30 per cent said their role had been furloughed. 

1.03pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Cadent Gas

As part of a series of pieces looking at what employers are doing to tackle the logistical, financial and staff wellbeing implications of the global pandemic, People Management  talks to Martin Rimmer, chief people officer at Cadent Gas.

12.45pm Co-op hopes to raise £30m for people hit by Covid-19 lockdown

The Co-op hopes to raise £30m to help those hardest hit by the coronavirus lockdown by allowing members to donate their unspent shopping reward points to a new support fund that will also draw on the chief executive’s salary. The donations will be used initially to support food banks, a funeral bereavement fund and other local causes that are helping to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

The food retailer estimates that its 4.6 million members have built up points worth £30m, and it is now encouraging them to donate these points to its new coronavirus fund. Steve Murrells, Co-op’s chief executive, promised to top up the fund by donating 20 per cent of his salary for the next three months to help support those affected by the lockdown.

12.20pm Carluccio’s workers to be furloughed after landmark legal ruling

Workers for Italian restaurant chain Carluccio's will be furloughed after a landmark legal ruling. The chain went into administration last month (30 March), and trade union Unite took legal action because it was concerned that Carluccio's 2,000 staff faced the prospect of being made redundant over the Easter bank holiday weekend. High Court judge Mr Justice Snowden said Carluccio's employees qualified for the government's job retention scheme – a ruling that means staff at other companies in administration could also access the scheme. 

Howard Beckett, Unite's assistant general secretary for political and legal affairs, said the ruling offers “some hope” to other workers who have been made redundant because their employers went into administration during the crisis, including those at Beales and Debenhams. He added: “I would urge these workers to speak to their trade union or contact the relevant administrator to find out if they can be helped in any way through these tough times.”

8.45am Amazon launches further North American recruitment drive 

Amazon has announced it will create an extra 75,000 jobs in the US and Canada in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The online retailing giant, which last month announced it would hire an extra 100,000 staff, said it had hit its previous hiring target and now needed a further recruitment drive. On its blog about its response to the coronavirus, Amazon said the fresh hires – all warehouse roles – could tide over workers in sectors such as hospitality, restaurants and travel.

Announcing the first 100,000 new roles in March, Amazon said it would create 5,000 “new full and part-time positions and delivery driver opportunities across the UK in our fulfilment centres and logistics network to meet the surge in demand”.

8.30am Next restarts online sales after implementing measures to better protect staff 

The company said it had spent two weeks “reworking” warehouse operations and had taken “lots of practical measures” to ensure staff who want to work “feel safe, work safe and are safe”.

“In order to operate our warehouse safely, we are limiting the number of warehouse colleagues working at any time, and so we will limit the number of customer orders we can take each day,” the business said in a statement. Safety measures include: two-metre floor markings to help staff maintain physical distancing; a one-way movement system; sanitising stations; and staff wearing tabards with the message ‘stay two metres apart’.

8am Think tank calls for 'triple lock' on pensions to be scrapped after crisis

The Social Market Foundation has said the massive economic cost of the government’s emergency measures must be shared fairly between old and young, and that some of the anticipated deficit could be funded by abandoning the triple lock guarantee on state pension rises.

The triple lock, which was introduced in 2011 by the coalition government, guarantees the basic state pension will rise by a minimum of either 2.5 per cent, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth, whichever is largest; this has led to state pensions rising quicker than wages. 

Thursday 9 April 

5pm Banking execs forgo bonuses

Senior executives and board members at banks such as Barclays, Standard Chartered, HSBC, RBS, Natwest and Lloyd's, have agreed to give up their 2020 bonuses as the coronavirus crisis continues. This has come after calls from the Bank of England to restrict bonuses. Natwest CEO Alison Rose stands to give up about £2.3m in total; HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn will not take his annual cash bonus, which would have been up to £1.2m; and HSBC chairman Mark Tucker will donate his entire 2020 fee of about £1.5m to charity.

4.30pm Airbnb restricts bookings to key workers

Airbnb is to temporarily restrict UK bookings to key workers and “essential stays” because of the coronavirus crisis. Key workers – such as NHS and social care staff, and transport and food retail employees – can still book through a programme called Frontline Stays. The programme is designed to provide up to 100,000 healthcare staff and first responders with accommodation close to their patients and a safe distance away from their families.

3.30pm In this even more VUCA world, HR has never been more vital

As the coronavirus situation continues to develop, people professionals must adapt and respond quickly, says Opemipo Koshemani

3pm Misconduct in the (cyber) workplace

As the coronavirus pandemic forces most employees to work from home, bullying and harassment may take on a new virtual form, as Kirsty Churm and Matthew Hardcastle explain

2.30pm How can HR remotely manage… learning and development?

As part of a series of articles looking at how businesses are conducting all people processes remotely in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, People Management explores how to keep learning alive in the new virtual workplace.

2pm Furloughing staff should be a last resort, employers warned

With recent analysis of British Chamber of Commerce figures by the Resolution Foundation revealing a surge in demand for the government’s furlough scheme and the potential for between seven and 10 million workers to be furloughed in the coming months, experts have suggested a small minority of organisations could be using the scheme too readily.

9.30am Thousands apply to fruit and veg grower jobs spurred by coronavirus displacement

Record numbers of people in the UK are looking for farming jobs, according to figures shared with the BBC by job search engines. Totaljobs says it has seen 50,000 searches for farming jobs in the past week alone. Totaljobs content and communications manager Steve Warnham said workers “who have been temporarily displaced because of Covid-19 are now looking for roles in other sectors”. UK growers recently launched a recruitment drive, calling for a modern-day “land army” to prevent millions of tonnes of fruit and vegetables going to waste.

9am Passport office staff asked to return to work 

Passport Office employees have said they feel their lives are being put at risk after being told to return to work. The Home Office said it was maintaining social distancing at passport offices, but a source at the Public and Commercial Services Union told the BBC that up to 2,000 staff would be asked to go back in, with 500 in offices at any one time. 

Dozens of employees sent messages expressing their concern, with one reading: "Your actions are going to kill people." A Home Office spokesperson said that a “significant” amount of people will work from home where possible and will operate with “substantially restricted” staffing levels. 

Wednesday 8 April

5pm All NHS staff to be offered mental health support

All of the NHS’s 1.4 million staff are to be offered free mental health support to help them deal with the strain of the coronavirus outbreak, the Guardian has reported. From Friday, health service employees will be able to access online therapy and group counselling, financial assistance, support for sleep problems and specialist bereavement support as part of a new support programme.

Lucy Warner, chief executive of NHS Practitioner Health, which set up the programme’s mental health offering, said NHS staff were likely to suffer “symptoms similar to shell shock” as a result of dealing with the outbreak. “Staff might not need this most badly in the immediate term, when the crisis hits because they’ll be so busy. But three to six months down the line … staff are likely to suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome,” she told the paper.

3pm Immigration compliance during Covid-19

The Home Office announced on 30 March that employers can now conduct right to work checks using video links: a temporary measure allowing workers to provide digital copies of their documentation rather than submitting originals so employers do not need to verify the individual’s identity in person. Anne Morris, managing director of DavidsonMorris, outlines which other rules have been changed or relaxed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

2.20pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Financial Ombudsman Service

As part of a series of articles looking at what employers are doing to tackle the logistical, financial and staff wellbeing implications of the global pandemic, People Management talks to Caroline Nugent, HR director at the Financial Ombudsman Service.

1.30pm Job retention scheme guidance update: what questions did it clear up?

Over the last month, many HR professionals have suddenly had to acquaint themselves with the concept of furloughing staff.

The initial guidance on the new coronavirus job retention scheme raised many questions about who was eligible and how the scheme interacted with other types of leave or benefits. So over the weekend the government issued further guidance with extra information on eligibility for parents and carers, for example. People Management runs down what’s been clarified and what remains unclear.

11.20am RNLI chief to take 50 per cent pay cut

The chief executive of the RNLI, Mark Dowie, is to take a 50 per cent pay cut for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak to help the lifeboat charity deal with the financial shock caused by the crisis.

The charity also said it was initially planning to furlough 30 per cent of its staff on 80 per cent pay over the next few weeks – and has said for those earning more than the £2,500 it would top up their wages to 80 per cent. All planned equipment and building replacement has also been paused.

“As a charity, we have to take a pragmatic approach in these difficult times and make sure we’re focusing our supporters’ donations on maintaining our lifesaving service for generations to come,” said Dowie.

10am Ambulance staff put at risk by lack of PPE, says trade union 

The GMB Union has said members are scared for their safety, with one in five London-based ambulance staff off sick with Covid-19 symptoms. According to the union, a total of 679 frontline crew in the London Ambulance Service are currently off sick, and those still working say they feel unprotected because of inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

The government has reassured that millions of protective items have been delivered to NHS employees around the country. However, union representative Paul Turner, who has returned to frontline paramedic duties, told the BBC NHS workers were “crying out” for better equipment. "Our aprons are disposable and flimsy and our sleeve protectors do not cover all of our jackets,” he said.

9.30am TfL trials new rules to protect bus drivers following deaths

Transport for London has announced a four-week trial of new passenger rules, following the deaths of nine bus workers in the capital. The trial will ensure passengers can only board and alight via the middle doors to improve social distancing for drivers. Other measures include signs to discourage proximity to the driver, an extra layer of protection on the driver’s clear screen, and a ramped up cleaning schedule. 

Drivers in the capital had criticised the previous measures for being “inadequate”, as a total of 14 public transport workers have died from contracting Covid-19. TfL said it is working with union Unite and bus operators to improve safety measures, and director of bus operations Claire Mann told The BBC that it is “only right we consider everything we can to protect them [transport workers]”.

8.30am EF Education First furloughs staff it intends to later make redundant

One of the world’s largest language training providers is applying for the UK government’s coronavirus job retention scheme even though it has told employees they will automatically be made redundant once the programme stops running. In the UK, EF Education First told more than 40 staff they would be made redundant on 17 March, but then offered to furlough them on 31 March once the furlough scheme was announced. 

David Hunt, partner at law firm Farrer & Co, told the Financial Times that while the company’s approach might be within the rules of the scheme, it was clearly against the spirit.

8am Furlough scheme three times more popular than anticipated

The coronavirus job retention scheme may cost £30-40bn over three months, three times the size of initial estimates, according to analysis by the Resolution Foundation, which used the latest figures on take-up of the scheme from the British Chambers of Commerce. It found nearly a fifth of smaller firms plan to furlough all their staff, and 50 per cent of companies are putting most of their employees into the scheme.

Tuesday 7 April 

1.45pm Cineworld bosses defer pay amid cinema closures

Cineworld has cut its dividend and executive pay and is in talks with lenders over its liquidity requirements as it announced all venues are now closed. Executive directors have agreed not to take any of the salaries or bonuses they are due.

1.30pm Big Four weighing up reputational risk of furloughing staff

The Financial Times has reported that leaders from the Big Four consultancy firms – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY – and their counterparts at mid-tier firms BDO and Grant Thornton, have been in talks about whether using government funds to furlough staff is wise reputationally. “The firms are terrified of suffering yet more reputation damage during this crisis,” said one of the three people the FT spoke to who had knowledge of the discussions. A second person said the call became a “moral debate”, adding that “everyone’s a bit battered and bruised and we’re all a bit cautious”.

A third person likened the situation to that of some top English football clubs, criticised for paying players high wages while relying on government support to temporarily lay off lower-paid cooks, cleaners and parking attendants.

9.10am Doctors lacking PPE 'bullied' into treating Covid-19 patients, survey finds

Doctors in Britain are being “bullied and shamed” into treating patients with Covid-19 despite not having the masks, gowns and eyewear they need to protect themselves from the virus, a survey of frontline medics has found. The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has collated 500 anonymous reports from its network of frontline medics across 193 hospital trusts and GP practices about shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).  

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, president of the DAUK, said it was “heartbreaking” to hear that some staff had been told to “hold their breath” to avoid getting infected because of the persistent shortages of PPE. 

9am BT, Verizon and Virgin Media raise pay for ‘frontline workers’

Telecom groups including BT, Verizon and Virgin Media are raising salaries and in some cases expanding their workforces in the wake of increased demand on the businesses. Verizon has said its engineers and retail staff in shops that have not closed will receive “significantly enhanced” compensation for performing essential services, without specifying details. 

BT will give ‘frontline’ staff such as engineers and call centre workers a 1.5 per cent pay rise in the summer, but the telecoms giant has frozen remuneration for all managerial-level personnel during the pandemic. Virgin Media said it will also raise salaries by an average of 2.2 per cent this month and is hiring 500 staff to work in its call centres to ease the strain on customer services during the lockdown. A further 700 engineers who previously worked as third-party contractors for Virgin were also hired directly last week. 

8.45am Leeds Bradford Airport workers furloughed on full pay

Leeds Bradford Airport has announced the almost 250 people directly employed by the airport – from security, car parking, cleaning and passenger assistance – would be given full pay in these “unprecedented times”. The government's furlough scheme during the virus outbreak covers 80 per cent of workers' pay.

Union Unite, which bargained for the deal with the airport, said workers would receive their full pay but would “work back” the additional 20 per cent of the wages the company had provided above the government's furlough cash. Unite regional officer Karl Stephenson said the union “has achieved assurances of no redundancies at Leeds Bradford Airport”. A spokesman for Leeds Bradford Airport said: "We are all working together in these unprecedented times for the benefit of staff, businesses and passengers."

8.30am Welsh employers told to keep staff two metres apart

All employers in Wales will be told to keep workers two metres apart from midnight Tuesday (7 April), the government has said. At a news conference on Monday (6 April), first minister Mark Drakeford said the new Welsh government rules will not amount to an “absolute ban”, but he urged employers to take “all reasonable measures” to ensure the health and safety of workers. 

The rules will require all workplaces, businesses and organisations to ensure a distance of two metres is maintained between people on their premises, and those waiting to enter. That means companies will be expected to take “proportionate action” where it is possible to do so, and police and councils will be able to enforce the moves.

8.20am Retired teachers in Northern Ireland urged to return for Easter

The education minister of Northern Ireland has appealed for retired teachers and classroom assistants to help keep schools open amid the coronavirus crisis. Peter Weir wrote to retired educators asking them to volunteer as schools would need to remain open over the Easter break to accommodate the children of key workers and the vulnerable. 

Speaking on Good Morning Ulster, the minister said the appeal was to “cover all eventualities” and that it was important to provide a pool of volunteers so schools can cope in all situations. Weir said: “At the moment, there are nearly 400 schools that are open over Easter… This [appeal] is to have a level of reserve pool so that if we reach a spike in the number of teachers who are off in any particular area, there are people who can ultimately be called upon then to provide that service.”

Monday 6 April

2.30pm Does the coronavirus crisis mean a holiday hiatus?

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown up some specific challenges around dealing with holiday – especially as employees are not able to take the traditional week in the sun or city break. Catherine Taylor and Alison Woods explain how employers should handle annual leave requests during the pandemic.

2pm Employees can be furloughed to carry out caring responsibilities

Government guidance on its job retention scheme, updated over the weekend, now states that workers who are unable to do their jobs because of caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus can be furloughed. In practice, this means parents whose children cannot attend school could be put on furlough rather than taking annual leave or unpaid leave to look after them.

The updated guidance also said that, if contractually allowed, furloughed staff could carry out paid work for another employer while still receiving furlough payments.

12.45pm Reach to furlough a fifth of staff and slash pay for remainder

Reach, the UK’s largest regional news group, has said it will furlough a fifth of its staff and ask the remainder to take a pay cut to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. The group, which publishes the Daily Mirror, celebrity magazine OK! and hundreds of regional titles, said it intends to furlough 20 per cent of its 4,700 staff during the crisis. Reach’s top management will take a 20 per cent pay cut, and all other staff will have their pay cut by 10 per cent. 

Reach said “key” national and regional titles would continue to be published at this time despite these measures. Chief executive Jim Mullen said: “It remains difficult to predict the duration and long-term impact of the crisis on our sector, so it is key we take proactive measures now on cost to protect jobs and the Reach business for the long term.”

9.20am Workers with childcare responsibilities can be furloughed

The government has updated the advice on its job retention scheme to allow employers to furlough employees who are unable to work because of care responsibilities arising as a result of coronavirus through the scheme. In practice, this means parents can be paid to look after their children if they are unable to balance work with childcare responsibilities, with 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 a month covered by the government.

The update also clarifies that employers can re-hire an employee and furlough them if they were made redundant or left the company after 28 February, that furloughed workers can continue to work a second job, and that both training and volunteering are allowed so long as they do not contribute financially to the company.

8.45am Casual workers at football stadiums left without pay

Thousands of casual workers at some of English football’s biggest stadiums have been left unpaid during the Covid-19 shutdown, the Guardian has reported. Workers, some on zero-hours contracts, from Delaware North – which provides catering and hospitality services at venues such as the Emirates Stadium, London Stadium, Wembley, Craven Cottage and the Ricoh Arena – contacted the Guardian after seeing booked shifts cancelled and receiving no payments since the Premier League season halted last month.

This is despite both Arsenal and West Ham previously saying they would continue paying their casual staff. They have been told by Delaware North that it is trying to establish whether they are eligible to be furloughed.

8.30am Channel 4 pays out millions in bonuses but cost-cutting measures expected

Channel 4, which is publicly owned but funds itself mostly through TV advertising, is estimated to have paid out more than £5m to its 903 staff last month, despite being in talks with the government about potentially benefiting from emergency £75m credit facility to mitigate the coronavirus’s impact on the TV industry.

It’s expected that the broadcaster will this week announce a range of cost-cutting measures, including a temporary 20 per cent reduction in executive team and board salaries. If Channel 4 follows the measures announced by ITV last week, top executives will give up bonuses for this year while staff can expect, at minimum, a pay freeze. ITV is reportedly looking to furlough some staff, and Channel 4 may be forced to do the same.

8am Under 25s and women worst hit by the virus

Young workers and the worst paid, many of whom are women, are the most likely to be affected by coronavirus lockdown businesses closures, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). IFS director Paul Johnson told the BBC’s Today programme young people tend to work in the leisure, retail and hospitality sectors, which have been heavily impacted.

Friday 3 April

2pm HR must look after its own mental health at this time of crisis

People professionals often don’t look after their own wellbeing. But as Annette Andrews says, they must prioritise their health to support their businesses.

1.50pm Apprenticeships threatened by uncertain funding, providers warn

Private apprenticeship providers are being forced to either close or mothball their operations because of a lack of secure funding during the coronavirus pandemic, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has said, accusing the Department for Education (DfE) of a “refusal to comply” with guidance that states government departments should continue to pay suppliers during the outbreak.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the AELP, said that failing to support private providers could lead to a shortage of apprenticeship programmes. “Action on funding apprenticeships and other important skills programmes is needed right now if the government seriously wants this year’s school leavers and unemployed adults who need retraining after the crisis to have apprenticeships available to them.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “We recognise this is a difficult time for the sector. We are continuing to work closely with key stakeholders and the Treasury to monitor how our support packages are benefitting organisations and to consider any further action which may be required.”

1.30pm Covid-19 causing settled status application delays, Home Office warns

Applications to the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme will take “longer than usual” to process because of the coronavirus lockdown, the Home Office has said, warning that support services and application routes have temporarily changed. It said the Settlement Resolution Centre responsible for processing applications would no longer answer inbound telephone calls, and the postal route for submitting identity evidence was “currently suspended”, although emails would still be answered and the smartphone application continued to work.

The government also clarified that it would not take enforcement action against employers that were Tier 2, 4 and 5 sponsors and that continued to sponsor employees absent because of coronavirus. Pay could also be temporarily reduced to 80 per cent of the employee’s salary, up to £2,500 per month in line with the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme without this affecting an employee’s right to work, so long as this is part of a company wide policies to avoid redundancies.

10am Nissan to extend manufacturing pause

Nissan has said it will extend the suspension of car production at its Sunderland plant throughout April as the coronavirus outbreak continues. The manufacturer initially said it was halting production for two weeks. In a statement, it said that the majority of its staff would be furloughed through the government’s Job Retention Scheme during this time.

9am Firms can rehire then furlough staff who left for other jobs after 28 February, says Martin Lewis

The government has updated its coronavirus job retention scheme guidance to clarify that firms can rehire and furlough staff who left for other jobs which then fell through due to Covid-19, according to

Official guidance has always stated that employers can rehire and furlough staff they’d made redundant after 28 February. However Martin Lewis, founder of, has said this has now been extended to allow firms to do the same for staff who left after 28 February but whose plans were then derailed due to coronavirus. People Management has reached out to HMRC to confirm the change.

8.30am CWU claims Royal Mail depot workers lack sufficient coronavirus protection

Many Royal Mail sorting offices are not providing sufficient protection for workers against coronavirus, the The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has warned. It has called for some depots to close until staff are safe. It told members they should stay away if their local sorting office had not provided masks, gloves and hand sanitiser, or implemented two-metre social distancing at all times. It estimated that as many as half of sorting offices did not have sufficient protection in place. Royal Mail disputed the claims, saying it had provided hand soap and latex gloves, and that “wherever possible” workers were being kept at least two metres apart.

Thursday 2 April 

5.30pm Norton Rose asks staff to work a four-day week

Norton Rose Fulbright has become the first large UK law firm to ask staff to cut their hours in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The firm has asked staff earning more than £45,000 to go to a four-day week and take a 20 per cent pay cut. Those on lower salaries will be asked to take a pay cut of between 5 and 20 per cent for the same reduction in hours. 

5pm Boeing asks staff to volunteer to be laid off

Boeing is asking employees to volunteer to leave the company with a severance package. Chief executive David Calhoun sent a memo to employees today saying the move “aims to reduce the need for other workforce actions”. It’s unclear how many volunteers the company is seeking from the 150,000-strong workforce.

2.20pm Investors call for executive pay cuts at top firms

One of the UK’s largest listed asset managers has written to UK businesses asking chief executives in struggling companies to “share the pain” and take a pay cut, the Financial Times has reported. Sue Noffke, head of UK equities at Schroders, reportedly wrote to company bosses telling them that if their organisations needed capital, they should “have an expectation that their compensation should also bear some cuts.”

Politicians, including Labour’s shadow chancellor, also called for banks and big companies to show restraint when handing out bonuses. On Tuesday, the Bank of England said it would not pay out dividends worth nearly £8bn to investors this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, and said other banks should not pay out cash bonuses to their top executives. However, the Guardian points out that many in the banking sector receive their bonuses alongside their March pay cheques, meaning millions could have already been paid out. 

2pm Boots employees feel ‘unsafe’ as customers continue to shop for cosmetics

Employees working at Boots have said they feel “unsafe” at work because customers continue to come into stores to shop for cosmetics, including tanning products and hair dye, the BBC has reported.

As a pharmacy chain, Boots is classed as an essential retailer and is allowed to keep its stores open despite the current restrictions. However, the BBC said it has spoken to members of staff who have expressed frustration that some continue to sell non-essential cosmetics, while others have claimed some stores have dropped limits on the number of customers allowed into shops at any one time or that staff have not received masks or other protective equipment.

In a statement, Tracey Clements, chief operating officer of Boots UK said: "I know that this is a difficult time and we are doing all we can to make sure our colleagues have the NHS recommended PPE available, alongside extra perspex and plastic screening and social distancing equipment they can use.

“We have over 60,000 colleagues and we are doing whatever we can to protect them whilst they work on the frontline of healthcare.”

1.30pm How to maintain cybersecurity while working from home

Any arrangement where employees are permitted to work remotely poses cybersecurity risks and challenges. With the number of people working from home skyrocketing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Kelly Hagedorn considers the steps employers can take to protect their businesses.

12.30am One in four employers expect to make redundancies as a result of coronavirus, poll finds

One in four UK employers expect to make redundancies because of the coronavirus crisis, while more than half will furlough staff, according to a People Management and CIPD survey. The poll of more than 300 employers found 52 per cent of businesses planned to temporarily lay off staff through the government’s job retention scheme.

The survey also found that, despite government intervention, a quarter (25 per cent) of employers expected to make at least some redundancies. Nearly one in six (15 per cent) expected to make up to 10 per cent of their existing workforce redundant, 9 per cent anticipated having to lose up to 49 per cent, and 1 per cent more than 75 per cent.

8.30am Universal credit claims soar

Nearly a million people have applied for universal credit benefits in the last two weeks; this compares to the 100,000 claims the Department for Work and Pensions would normally expect in a two-week period. The department said 950,000 successful applications were made between 16 March, when people were advised to work from home, and the end of the month.

“The sudden and vast increase in those signing up is powerful evidence that the coronavirus crisis is an economic emergency for a very significant portion of the public – losing work and losing income in ways they could never have anticipated a few short weeks ago,” commented BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

8am BA expected to furlough 80 per cent of workforce

British Airways is expected to announce today that it will temporarily suspend around 36,000 staff, but no redundancies are expected to be made. The airline has been negotiating with  union Unite for more than a week. Many employees at Virgin Atlantic have been laid off for two months and crews at easyJet are out of work for three months.

Wednesday 1 April 

4.30pm M&S store staff to receive bonuses for coming into work

Marks & Spencer has said it will pay its in-store staff an extra 15 per cent as a reward for their “dedication and commitment”, the BBC has reported, joining the list of retailers including that are rewarding staff for their work during the coronavirus outbreak.

Asda, Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Asda have previously announced similar bonuses for staff.

“It’s been an extraordinary couple of weeks and despite the enormous challenges, it’s been incredible to see how colleagues have stepped up and responded, doing an outstanding job during this uncertain and difficult time,” said Tesco UK boss Jason Tarry, when announcing its 10 per cent pay increase.

“This pay bonus is just one way we are saying thank you to our colleagues and recognising that they are on the front line, helping to feed the nation.”

2.40pm BrewDog bosses give up 2020 salary to prevent job losses

BrewDog brewery bosses James Watt and Martin Dickie announced they will not take a salary in 2020 to protect jobs across its business during the coronavirus outbreak. Watt revealed the move on Twitter this week, adding that many of the brewery’s senior team had also taken salary cuts to prevent job losses across the organisation. 

Watt told The Grocer: “This is a very tough time for all businesses, and we have two priorities: firstly to survive and secondly to protect as many jobs as we can.” BrewDog closed its pubs last month and has spent the past weeks using its facilities to make hand sanitiser, which it is donating to the NHS and local charities.

2.30pm In these unprecedented times, we must judge other employers a bit less

The last week of March 2020 has to be one of the most challenging weeks to date for HR professionals. Firms face tough decisions on preserving both staff wellbeing and livelihoods as they navigate government guidance on essential business, so perhaps we should try to be a little less judgemental and recognise the monumentally unusual times we find ourselves in, argues Melanie Taylor.

2pm Understanding the legal aspect of furloughing

The job retention scheme is expected to be up and running by the end of April, according to the government. Melanie Lane and Catherine Taylor outline what this means for businesses from an employment law perspective.

1.30pm Key and home workers struggling with childcare, poll reveals

The latest People Management and CIPD survey of HR professionals found nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of employers were concerned about staff’s ability to balance home working with parenting commitments.

But, despite this concern, more than half (52 per cent) of employers responding to the latest survey said they were encouraging parents to make up their full contractual hours at home but at different times to normal. Meanwhile, 41 per cent said parents were working their normal hours but at home.

“[Employers must] be realistic and have open conversations about what work can be achieved with small children at home,” said Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families. “Importantly, this is gender neutral – all parents should play their part.

10.30am Unions welcome national living wage rise for many key workers

A new national living wage (NLW) rate, which will see the hourly pay for those over the age of 25 increase from £8.21 to £8.72, has been welcomed by unions, as many key workers continuing to work throughout the coronavirus lockdown are currently on minimum wage. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said Britain was “indebted to its army of minimum wage heroes” and that they “deserve every penny of this increase, and more”.  

The Guardian reported that retailers privately lobbied for a delay, however, alongside the British Beer and Pub Association, which feared an NLW rise would result in “mass job losses and permanent pub closures”. 

10am Tottenham Hotspur announces non-playing staff will take pay cut

Football club Tottenham Hotspur has announced its 550 non-playing staff will see a 20 per cent cut in pay, initially for two months, as the club attempts to protect jobs. It will also make use of the government’s furlough scheme. Chair Daniel Levy told the BBC people needed to “wake up to the enormity” of the pandemic, adding that the club would “continue to review” its position.

Spurs is owned by Joe Lewis, who has a net worth of more than £4bn. Julian Knight, chair of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, told the BBC the decision exposed the “moral vacuum” at the centre of English football. "It sticks in the throat that clubs are continuing to pay their stars hundreds of thousands a week while furloughing staff on a few hundred pounds a week,” he added.

9.45am Tesco takes on thousands of new staff

In an email to customers, Tesco CEO Dave Lewis reported that the company had taken on more than 35,000 employees in just 10 days, including pickers and drivers, to cope with increased demand and improve the availability of online delivery slots. The company also said it had had more than one million visitors to its careers website during this period.

9.30am Laura Ashley and Tui announce furlough plans

Laura Ashley has said it plans to furlough 1,669 staff using the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme, while 268 people will be made redundant. Meanwhile, 677 people will continue to work for the business as normal. Staff are continuing to run the retailer’s online operations, in line with guidance over social distancing, it said. Administration adviser PwC said it anticipated all stores would reopen, when guidance permits, for a period of time, either because the stores form part of a sale or to sell off remaining stock.

Meanwhile, travel and holiday operator Tui is furloughing 4,455 travel agency staff and more than 6,500 pilots, cabin crew and head office workers from today. About 2,000 employees will be retained.

9am Zoom’s data security and privacy questioned

Videoconferencing app Zoom has come under scrutiny as its popularity soars during the coronavirus pandemic. New York's attorney general has written to the firm raising concerns over its ability to cope with the rise in users, asking whether it had reviewed its security measures since its popularity surged. UK prime minister Boris Johnson recently tweeted a picture of himself chairing a Cabinet meeting using Zoom, leading to questions about how secure it was. A Zoom spokesperson told the BBC: "Zoom takes its users' privacy, security and trust extremely seriously.”

8.30am Government might have to scrap push to end low pay in wake of coronavirus

The government has been warned it could be forced to abandon targets for ending low pay in Britain by raising the legal minimum wage. The Low Pay Commission, the body that advises ministers on legal wage floors, said the government target to increase the national living wage to two-thirds of average earnings by 2024, or its time frame, might have to be reviewed. The news comes as a 6.2 per cent increase to the national living wage comes into effect today.

Tuesday 31 March

3.30pm Frontline NHS workers granted free visa extensions to focus on coronavirus outbreak

The home secretary Priti Patel has announced frontline NHS workers whose visas are due to expire before 1 October will be granted free automatic extensions to allow them to remain in the country. 

The extensions will apply to around 2,800 migrants working in the NHS, as well as their families. Patel said: “Doctors, nurses and paramedics from all over the world are playing a leading role in the NHS's efforts to tackle coronavirus and save lives,” adding “we owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do. I don't want them distracted by the visa process.”

12.45pm Employers must step up mental health support during coronavirus crisis, CIPD says

Employers must act now to prevent mental ill-health among staff both during the coronavirus outbreak, the CIPD has said. A poll of HR professionals across the UK, conducted between October and mid-November, found only a quarter (25 per cent) believed managers were able to spot the early warning signs of mental ill-health. 

The research comes as figures from the third coronavirus reader survey conducted by People Management and the CIPD found two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents cited supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing as their organisation’s main challenge currently. Rachel Suff, wellbeing advisor for the CIPD, said: “This pandemic presents a real threat to people's mental – as well as physical – health, and employers need to think about both when putting in place plans to protect their workforce.”

12.15pm MPs call for coronavirus compensation scheme for frontline workers during the crisis

Fifty MPs from various parties have written to Boris Johnson calling for the creation of a coronavirus compensation scheme for workers “who die as a result of contracting Covid-19 while performing frontline duties”. The letter, shared on Twitter by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, asked for the scheme to mirror the existing armed forces compensation scheme and would include a lump sum up front, a guaranteed income for the worker’s family and child payments to eligible children under 18.

The letter has been signed by Labour MP Jess Phillips, Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts and Conservative MP Sir Charles Walker.

12pm Right to work checks can now be conducted remotely, government announces

The government has announced temporary adjustments to the way right to work checks can be conducted during the coronavirus pandemic. Checks can now be carried out online, by video call, and applicants can send copies of identification electronically instead of posting originals.

11.15am Wembley Ikea turns into coronavirus test centre for NHS workers

A coronavirus test centre for NHS workers has opened at Ikea’s store in Wembley, London. The retailer offered the store as an additional medical facility and said it has also been donating food to local hospitals, food banks and homeless shelters. 

An Ikea spokesperson said the firm was “enormously proud” of the NHS and will also be responding to requests from hospitals and doctors by delivering disposable paper tape measures to help continue the fight against the virus. 

11am Law firm staff urged to turn off smart speakers while working from home during pandemic

Employees are being advised to mute or shut off smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google’s Home to protect work-sensitive data while working remotely because of the coronavirus outbreak. Mishcon de Reya, the London-based law firm that advised Princess Diana on her divorce, told staff to power down and keep smart speakers away from their workplace when they talk about client matters at home. 

Joe Hancock, head of the firm's cybersecurity efforts, told Bloomberg the company was worried about the devices being compromised and possibly recording client-sensitive data or phone calls. Hancock said: “Perhaps we’re being slightly paranoid, but we need to have a lot of trust in these organisations and these devices. We’d rather not take the risk.”

9am Amazon and Asos warehouse workers voice concerns over coronavirus protections

Amazon workers have walked out of a New York City facility demanding increased protective gear and hazard pay. The strikers at the JFK8 warehouse demanded the company close down the large warehouse for thorough cleaning after reports of multiple employees testing positive for coronavirus. Amazon disputed the allegations and said it had taken measures to keep people safe, including by intensifying cleaning and procuring safety supplies.

Meanwhile, more than 98 per cent of 460-plus Asos workers who took part in a survey by the GMB union said they felt unsafe at the group’s warehouse in Grimethorpe, Barnsley. Asos said social distancing protocols were in place, with a dedicated member of staff to enforce this at break times and at the start and end of shifts, and that it had worked to organise additional buses.

8.45am 25,000 airport ground handling jobs at risk

The four companies that manage ground operations at UK airports have warned they are close to collapse. In a joint letter, Swissport, WFS, dnata and Menzies said they needed urgent assistance from the government. They warned that without their services "the airport infrastructure in the UK would grind to a halt for up to four months".

8.30am Carluccio’s employees to be furloughed as the chain collapses

Carluccio's has gone into administration, blaming "challenging trading conditions" exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. Most of the company's 2,000 employees will be paid through the government's job retention scheme while options including mothballing or selling all or parts of it are explored. The Italian restaurant chain had already warned it was facing permanent branch closures because of coronavirus.

Monday 30 March 

3pm Redefining HR’s priorities in a Covid-19 world

Now is the time to totally rethink work while the arguments for change are fresh in our minds and those of employees, say Mara Swan and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

2.30pm Coronavirus and pregnant employees

Last week it was announced that all pregnant women should now be included in the ‘at risk’ category and should minimise social contact for up to 12 weeks to try to prevent them contracting Covid-19. This change is causing major concerns for many pregnant women and their employers, and they’re wondering what steps to take next. Danielle Ayres explains how employers can best manage the situation.

2.00pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...International SOS

As part of a series of articles looking at what employers are doing to tackle the logistical, financial and staff wellbeing implications of the global pandemic, People Managementtalks to Ben Dale, HR director for the UK and Northern Europe at International SOS.

1.20pm Food producers voice concerns job retention scheme could harm recruitment

Experts have urged businesses utilising furlough leave to instead consider cooperating with food firms to redeploy staff to help meet increased demand, as businesses in the food production industry have voiced concerns the job retention scheme could harm much needed recruitment efforts. The sector has seen increased demand as customers stockpile food or turn to supermarkets as pubs and restaurants shut, and companies were expecting to be able to increase their own workforces by hiring staff made redundant in the struggling hospitality sector.

Carl Atkinson, partner at Gunnercooke, said seconding staff to other industries would require cooperation between businesses. But, he noted that the portal through which employers claim government wage support for furloughed workers may not be running smoothly until May or even June, and until that time organisations would still need to foot the bill for staff wages.

“A secondment could save the original employer the immediate staff cost of the employees and the additional 20 per cent contribution they may be making to top up,” he suggested.

1pm Business spend on automation increases in wake of coronavirus

Two-fifths of bosses are accelerating their plans to increase automation in their businesses as workers are forced to stay at home because of coronavirus. The international survey, conducted by EY, found 41 per cent of respondents from 45 countries were spending on speeding up automation. 

11am Two million self-employed could miss out on support

Concerns have been raised that over a third of the UK’s self-employed workforce – some two million people – could miss out on the government’s financial aid package because they are ineligible for support.

Last week chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £10bn scheme that promised to pay self-employed people 80 per cent of their average monthly income up to a maximum of £2,500 if they are financially hit because of the coronavirus. However, to be eligible, they need to be earning under £50,000 in profits a year and to have filed a tax return for 2019.

There has also been little guidance on what happens for those who are self employed but have set themselves up as a limited company and pay themselves a salary. “For many, the £50,000 cap creates a sharp cliff-edge, and there is no provision in the scheme for freelancers trading for less than a year,” wrote Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE). “We are certainly disappointed that many of our members and other contractors who operate via a limited company will miss out on the level of support available to other self-employed workers.”

9.45am One in seven workers affected by changes to their working arrangements because of childcare responsibilities, says ONS

With schools and nurseries closed because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, millions of working parents are juggling a paid job with full-time childcare responsibilities. The Office for National Statistics estimated there are 4.6 million households with dependent children aged under 16 years where all parents in the household are working, of which 3.7 million are couple households and 842,000 are lone-parent households. 

If all households with a child under 16 years were to make changes to their working arrangements to provide childcare, this could affect one in seven workers, approximately 14 per cent of the UK workforce. Education is the most common industry in which parents in working households with dependent children are employed, followed by human health industries and the public administration, defence and social security industries. 

9.30am Co-op fills 5,000 temporary roles in a week

Co-op has said it has filled the 5,000 temporary in-store roles it created last week to meet the increased demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak. It said the increase in numbers would help it’s stores replenish their shelves and fulfil online orders more quickly and efficiently. Jo Whitfield, CEO of Co-op Food, said: “Just one week ago we asked members of the British public who needed jobs to come forward and join forces with us. The response has been overwhelming as people pull together to feed the nation.”

8.20am NHS offers roles to Virgin and easyJet staff at coronavirus field hospital

Thousands of easyJet and Virgin airline staff are being offered work by the NHS in the new Nightingale Hospital in east London. NHS England said many airline workers were first aid trained and had security clearance, and those who sign up will support nurses and clinicians at the field hospital. 

The NHS said workers would be changing beds and performing other non-clinical tasks to help doctors and nurses working in the coronavirus field hospital. Virgin Atlantic reported it had written to about 4,000 employees about the opportunity, and easyJet said it had contacted 9,000 of its UK-based staff. 

Sunday 29 March 

8pm 20,000 former NHS staff rejoin hospitals to fight coronavirus, says prime minister

Some 20,000 former NHS employees have returned to work to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, the prime minister has revealed. Boris Johnson, who is self-isolating after testing positive for the virus, announced in a video posted on Twitter that thousands of doctors and nurses had rejoined the NHS to help already stretched hospitals. 

Alongside healthcare professionals who have returned to the NHS, he thanked the 750,000 members of the public who have volunteered to help the country through the pandemic, saying: “We are going to do it; we are going to do it together.”

1am NHS Wales staff to travel for free as government helps struggling public transport operators

NHS staff in Wales will receive free public transport throughout the country as part of a government deal that will help bus operators. The commitment for free bus travel for NHS workers is part of a £69m hardship fund for companies struggling with drops in passenger numbers as a result of the outbreak.

Ken Skates, economy and transport minister for Wales, said the funding will give public transport operators the initial funding they needed to continue to deliver services and pay employees and subcontractors. Free rail travel is already available for healthcare workers on Transport for Wales trains.

Friday 27 March

3.30pm Your furlough questions answered

To support struggling businesses, and their employees, the government last week announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, offering employers grants from HMRC to cover 80 per cent of the wages of staff who are on the payroll but not working because of the outbreak, up to a maximum of £2,500 per worker per month.

With guidance on the scheme updated by the government yesterday, People Managementanswers the most pressing questions for employers.

2pm Questions raised around whether self-employed income support scheme is more generous than provisions for furloughed employees

Under the new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, self-employed people who faced a loss of income because of the outbreak will be able to apply for taxable grants worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

However, Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said the package could work out as more generous than that available to employees because it can be accessed by contractors who are still earning. By contrast, furloughed employees cannot perform any work for their employer or another business while temporarily laid off.

Employees who have had their hours cut or been made redundant also do not stand to benefit from the government’s job retention scheme.

“The groups that now stand out as being much less generously treated in this crisis are employees unlucky enough to lose their jobs, or see their hours cut during this crisis. Their lack of support stands out in stark contrast to a very significant package for the self-employed today,” said Bell.

12.30pm Met asks retired police to return to work

The Metropolitan Police has asked officers and sergeants who have retired in the past five years to return to the force as it works to contain the coronavirus outbreak in London. The retired officers are being asked to rejoin on a full or part-time basis, and the Met has asked those nearing retirement to consider staying on.

Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Met, expected the demands on the force will grow over the coming weeks and wanted “people to know and see the Met is here for them”. She said: “I am hopeful that these exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable former colleagues choose to come and be part of our team and support London at this extraordinary time.”

9.20am HSBC to delay planned redundancies in wake of coronavirus

HSBC has said it has been forced to delay the majority of redundancies it had planned as part of a restructure because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Financial Times reported that in an internal memo, the bank’s new CEO, Noel Quinn, said he would defer the redundancies “because of the extraordinary impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”. The bank’s restructure was expected to include 35,000 job losses over three years.

8.30am Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley issues public apology over attempts to keep stores open

Mike Ashley has issued a public apology after trying to keep his Sports Direct chain open when non-essential businesses were ordered to close. Ashley’s Frasers Group, which includes House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, had intended to keep Sports Direct open on the basis that selling sporting and fitness equipment meant it provided an essential service. He eventually bowed to government pressure and shut stores on Tuesday.

Thursday 26 March

5.10pm Self employed will be able to claim 80 per cent of monthly wages

Self employed people financially struggling because of the coronavirus outbreak will be able to claim 80 per cent of their monthly wages from the government up to a maximum of £2,500, with the exact figure based on their monthly profits from the previous year. It will only apply to those already in self employment and have filed a self assessed tax return in 2019, and for those with trading profits of up to £50,000.

The scheme, announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak this afternoon, is meant to bring support for the self-employed in line with that available to employees who have been furloughed. It will be in place for an initial three months but could be extended.

Sunak said he hoped people would be able to access the scheme no later than June.

3.40pm What kinds of leaders will equip organisations to survive crisis and disruption?

Áine Hurley highlights the critical role of HRDs in developing, cultivating and retaining leaders of the future at times of crisis like the current coronavirus outbreak.

3pm How can HR remotely manage… onboarding?

As part of a series of articles looking at how businesses are conducting all people processes remotely in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, People Management explores how to make new starters feel welcomed remotely.

2.30pm 'Essential worker' confusion down to poor HR, say experts

HR experts have told People Management the government’s lockdown parameters were clear, and the problem around who should and should not come into work lay with inexperienced people managers. “I personally believe that the government’s advice is clear enough for organisations to act on,” said Pete Colby, director at Pragmatism UK. “The problem is that some HR professionals don’t have experience or confidence to make decisions and they’re therefore being influenced to make irresponsible decisions.”

His comments follow reports that the government has come under fire for its messaging over its social distancing policies. MPs have reported being inundated with queries from constituents asked to attend a place of work, but feeling they shouldn’t be classed as key workers and anxious about their inability to stay at least two metres apart from colleagues.

11am Leeds United players and coaches defer wages to save staff jobs

Leeds United players, coaches and senior management have voluntarily deferred their wages to keep the club running and pay its 272 full-time and casual staff in the coming months. English football is suspended until at least 30 April, and Leeds said the lack of matches will cost the club "several million pounds" each month.

Victor Orta, Leeds' director of football, said he was proud the team "demonstrated an incredible sense of unity and togetherness" and thanked them for putting "our wider team first and taking care of family". 

9.30am Virgin Media to recruit 500 call centre staff in the UK

Virgin Media has announced it is looking to recruit hundreds of new call centre staff in the UK to handle the impact of coronavirus in countries where offshore workers handle customer service calls. The telecoms giant said the move would address the potential issues of offshore workers in countries including India and the Philippines no longer being able to handle increased numbers of customer calls.

9am Support for self-employed workers to be announced later today

Self-employed workers facing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak are set to be offered a package of government support later today. Chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil the measures at the prime minister’s daily coronavirus briefing. It’s expected he will match the 80 per cent salary support given to PAYE employees.

Wednesday 25 March

3.15pm What does coronavirus mean for older workers?

The fastest-growing employment segment in many developed economies is the over-55s, which means a much larger percentage of older workers are now in employment than ever before. Employers need to take extra measures to protect these individuals and consider the long-term implications of Covid-19 for an ageing workforce, says Yvonne Sonsino.

3pm Can firms and staff take action against colleagues who’ve come to work with Covid-19?

Given some individuals will have contracted the virus through work, Dr Anne Sammon and April Horsman consider the legal implications for employers.

2.15pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Fideres Partners

As part of a series of pieces looking at what employers are doing to tackle the logistical, financial and staff wellbeing implications of the global pandemic, People Management talks to Kate Bicknell, head of people and culture at Fideres Partners.

2pm Suspending gender pay gap reporting obligations a ‘mistake’, say experts

Yesterday’s move to suspend gender pay reporting obligations this year has been widely welcomed as a reprieve for HR departments currently tasked with keeping employees and their businesses safe during the outbreak. But experts have called on organisations that can to still submit their data – not least to provide a benchmark to help measure the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on gender pay when this year’s snapshot is published in 2021.

Frank Douglas, CEO of Caerus Executive, called the decision to suspend reporting requirements “a mistake”, arguing that eliminating inequality in the workplace was a business-critical issue for organisations. “For the government to push the pause button sends an unneeded message [that] closing the gender pay gap is a non-essential or optional business activity," he said.

1.45pm BBC suspends plans for restructure

The BBC has announced it will suspend plans for a sweeping restructure of its news division, which would include cutting 450 journalist roles, as the broadcaster seeks to cover the outbreak of the coronavirus around the world. According to reports, Sir Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, told staff in an internal call today (25 March) that consultations for the proposed cuts would be suspended for the time being.

Earlier this year, the BBC announced it would need to make another £40m worth of cuts to make a 2022 savings target, which included cutting hundreds of jobs across the BBC’s global news outputs. 

1.30pm NHS England calls staff back from redundancy to fill roles

NHS England has called back staff who were given redundancy notices early this year to “delay their planned exits” and work in temporary roles to help fight coronavirus, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) has reported. According to a letter seen by the HSJ, the NHS asked staff affected by planned redundancies last week to return and temporarily work in a listed a series of roles including incident managers, information coordinators and task managers across the health service. 

An NHS England spokesman told HSJ: “Exceptional times require flexible and pragmatic responses, so just like the rest of the NHS we’re using all available people and resources to deal with coronavirus.”

1pm Millions working from home for the first time, ONS figures suggest

Millions of workers across the UK are experiencing home working for the first time because of coronavirus, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest. The data revealed 1.7 million people, about 5 per cent of the UK’s workforce, said they worked mainly from home in 2019. Around 8.7 million people said they have worked from home before – equivalent to less than 30 per cent of the workforce. 

Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, said she expected the coronavirus outbreak would change work forever and that soon such models would become “synonymous with responsible working practice and corporate governance”.

12.15pm Aviation industry concerned over workforce issues after UK government announces no extra help for airlines

Aviation experts have expressed “surprised” that the industry will have to “fight on its own to protect its workforce” after the chancellor told airlines not to turn first to the government for help getting through the coronavirus crisis. In a letter on Tuesday (24 March), Rishi Sunak said the government would only step in as “a last resort” and instead urged airlines to raise money from shareholders. 

But Karen Dee, chief executive of trade body Airport Operations Association, said Sunak’s decision would leave airports “struggling to provide critical services” and support its staff. She called for the government to reconsider and “increase the flexibility of the employment retention scheme to take account of the airport context”. 

12pm IFS calls on the government to delay forthcoming living wage increase

As the majority of high street businesses face closure on government advice to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has today called for a delay to the increase to the national living wage (NLW) rate, currently due in April. 

Tom Waters, senior research economist at the IFS, noted that the significant financial support for employers and workers announced last week are set to come into force at the same time as the NLW increase to £8.72 per hour. 

“While there is a clear rationale for benefit increases in the current environment, it's much harder to see a justification for NLW rises, which could undercut the government's other policies aimed at keeping businesses afloat and avoiding massive job losses,” he said. “The government should seriously consider a delay to the NLW increase, mirroring the temporary rise in benefits."

11am Halfords stores remain open as government says it is an ‘essential provider of services’

Bicycle and car parts retailer Halfords has defended its decision to keep shops open amid the outbreak, saying it has an “essential role to play in keeping the country moving”. Its autocentre garages and mobile vans will remain open, and there are plans for “partial store coverage” across its 446 shops. 

The retailer drew criticism after it said it would keep some stores open after being named by the government as an “essential provider of services”, and some users on social media raised concerns about the health and safety for onsite staff. But Halfords boss Graham Stapleton said the stores had a part to play “in providing vital support to emergency workers, fleet operations and the general population as they travel for essential supplies”.

8am MPs report being inundated by questions about who should be working

Confusion has continued to reign over what constitutes essential work and so who should and shouldn’t be attending a place of work, with many reporting still being asked to work in factory environments or sit next to someone in a van, for example, where it is impossible to stay two metres apart.

Speaking on today’s episode of the BBC’s daily Coronavirus Newscast podcast, Labour Derbyshire MP Toby Perkins said: “We’ve been inundated with constituents getting in touch who have been told they’ve got to go to work but consider themselves not to be in essential… lines of work. I’ve had a company that makes gas metres that is staying open… I’ve even had a retailer that sells e-cigarettes that considers them to be a health product and [so] thought they were exempt from the closure.”

Tuesday 24 March

5pm Former and student medics poised to join NHS coronavirus effort, says Hancock

Speaking at the government's daily briefing at Downing Street, health secretary Matt Hancock said 11,000 former medics have answered the government's call to return to the NHS, and more than 20,000 final-year student medics and nurses will also begin work. He said the government is appealing for 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS and deliver medicines.

Labour's Jonathan Ashworth called for "clear and unambiguous advice around which workers can and can't go out". "We're hearing stories of warehouses insisting agency workers turn up; construction sites not putting in place social distancing measures," he said. "This is putting workers at risk and it's putting the lives of all of us at risk. We need clear enforcement.” Hancock said the government would be publishing guidance later to explain the steps employers should take to keep employees safe.

4.20pm Taylor Wimpey, Galliard and Barratt to shut construction sites

Three of the UK’s largest construction firms have said they will close their sites in response to the coronavirus outbreak, going against government advice that construction sites could stay open so long as workers followed health advice that they stay two metres apart. Taylor Wimpey said: “In the interest of customer and employee safety, we have taken the decision to close all of our show homes, sales centres and construction sites for all work except that needed to make the sites safe and secure.”

Similarly, Sadiq Khan has suspended all work on Transport for London and Crossrail projects over concerns about the spread of the virus.

4.10pm How will the government's new job retention scheme work?

Sarah Ozanne, employment lawyer at CMS, explains what the chancellor’s unprecedented financial support package for those temporarily laid off during the Covid-19 outbreak means for employers.

3.30pm “Being off sick with coronavirus gave me a new perspective on work”

HR consultant Elva Ainsworth shares what it was like being unable to work after catching the virus, and lessons for people professionals.

3pm How can HR remotely manage… underperforming employees?

People Management looks at the implications of many employers now having to conduct all people processes when employees are working from home – the first in a series on remote working in the wake of coronavirus.

2pm Employers criticised for asking staff to work amid lockdown

Firms forcing employees to come into work to perform “non-critical roles” risk facing legal claims, experts have said, as companies continue to insist that staff come into work against the latest government advice. Kate Ledwidge, senior associate at law firm JMW Solicitors, also said employers faced “serious reputational damage if you are seen to be prioritising profits over public safety”.

Her comments come as activewear giant Sports Direct came under fire for vowing to stay open and asking staff to work as normal, despite government guidance for all but essential businesses to shut and workers to travel to work only where completely necessary. The retailer has since backtracked on its position.

1.30pm Gender pay reporting requirements suspended this year

The UK’s equalities watchdog, the Government Equalities Office, said it has decided to suspend enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines this year in the wake of the challenge presented to employers by coronavirus. The move in effect means businesses are under no obligation to submit their data for this year.

However, the CIPD has urged all businesses that are able to submit their data regardless. "Most organisations should already have the gender pay data to hand, so if they are in a position to submit their figures then we would strongly encourage their HR teams to do so, especially if they have a narrative and action plan ready to publish as well,” said Charles Cotton, senior reward and performance adviser at the CIPD.

Nishi Mayor, business director at Business in the Community, noted that women were likely to be “in the eye of the storm” during the current coronavirus outbreak, in part because they were more likely to pick up extra caring responsibilities as schools shut or if relatives fall ill. “All this means this crisis could lead to a widening of the pay gap – making reporting this year especially important,” she said.

10.50am Unions call for more protection for supermarket workers

Security at supermarkets should be increased, and perspex screens installed in front of tills to protect workers from the risk of infection and from angry customers, a shopworker’s union has said. The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) has also called for limits to be put on the number of customers allowed into stores at any one time.

Some of the measures called for by Usdaw have already been implemented in some stores. Morrisons, for example, has already installed screens in front of some of its tills, while Waitrose has said it will introduce a limit to the number of customers allowed in stores – enforcing a ‘one in, one out’ policy when stores have reached capacity.

10.20am Wetherspoon staff will not receive pay after 22 March

A letter from the BFAWU – the union that represents pub employees among others – has said its members who are Wetherspoon employees are only set to receive pay for hours worked up to 22 March. The letter said Wetherspoon had taken the decision not to pay staff from that point onwards until it received its government grant for wages, which might not be until the end of April.

The letter also claims that in a video circulated to staff, the firm’s CO, Tim Martin, suggested staff apply for roles at Tesco.

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said staff would be paid this Friday for all work carried out until the pubs shut, and that the chain would utilise the government’s job retention scheme. “Details [of the scheme] are in the course of being finalised between licensed trade representatives and the government at the present time,” he said.

“Wetherspoon is retaining all its employees, using the government scheme for the purpose for which it is intended,” Gershon said.

He added that Wetherspoon had received “urgent calls from supermarkets asking for help in recruitment” as customers unable to go to pubs or restaurants turned to supermarkets. “Tim Martin said in the video that staff who wanted to work for Tesco should do so and they will be given first priority when Wetherspoon pubs reopen,” Gershon said.

10am Job searches for delivery driver roles soar

Searches for job vacancies in the logistic, retail and healthcare sectors have spiked in the last week, according to an online jobs board. CV-Library has said it has seen the number of searches on its site for delivery driver roles more than treble, increasing by 222 per cent in the week 9-15 March when compared to the week before.

Sector by sector, searches for warehouse roles rose by 132 per cent, retail job searches were up 128 per cent, administration 60 per cent and healthcare 20 per cent.

Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library, said the site was also seeing similar patterns with CV registrations. “The sad reality is that many companies have had to let employees go during these challenging times and this means more people are actively looking for jobs,” he said.

9am Sports Direct stores to close after all

Sports Direct has performed a U-turn on keeping its shops open during the coronavirus lockdown following a backlash over its plans. After widespread criticism, it now says it will not open until “given the go-ahead by the government". The chain is now contacting the government "at all levels" to confirm whether its shops are deemed to provide an essential service, chief financial officer Chris Wootton said.

8.30am Sports Direct says it will stay open despite coronavirus lockdown

Sports Direct has said all stores will remain open despite the UK lockdown because selling sporting and fitness equipment makes the company a vital asset, according to an email seen by the PA news agency. Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which includes Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, wrote to all staff within 30 minutes of PM Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down all non-essential retailers.

Monday 23 March

9pm PM outlines strict lockdown to tackle Covid-19

Prime minister Boris Johnson has outlined strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people. He said people should only travel to and from work where "absolutely necessary", and only where work cannot possibly be done from home. He also ordered the immediate closure of shops selling non-essential goods. Businesses that will not need to close include supermarkets, petrol stations, post offices and banks, and construction can continue onsite as long as social distancing measures are followed.

6.30pm Boots asks beauty and fragrance staff to switch to healthcare

Pharmacy and healthcare retailer Boots has told its store employees who work on its beauty and fragrance counters they are no longer required to attend work in stores from tomorrow (24 March), and instead asked them to stay and consider switching to healthcare so it can “continue to work tirelessly to support those who need us”.

5pm Supermarkets to erect screens to protect checkout staff

Morrisons and Aldi have announced they will install hundreds of screens at checkouts this week to protect staff as concerns grow about their safety while dealing with hundreds of customers a day during the coronavirus outbreak.

3.20pm Tesco sees spike in job applications

The number of applications for roles at Tesco has increased by 5,000 a day, with the retailer receiving more than half a million since last Wednesday. Tribe Pad, which runs Tesco’s application tracking system, said on Sunday the company was receiving 300 applications a minute, compared to just nine a minute the previous week. It said the surge was caused by jobseekers from the hospitality sector, which has been struggling with the reduced demand and calls for social distancing caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Tesco is one of a number of supermarkets that have been looking to increase their headcounts to cope with the increased demand and panic buying that food retailers have experienced as a reaction to the outbreak.

2.50pm The legalities of working away from the workplace

While most employees are happy to do their bit for the greater good, businesses should remember that, even in these difficult times, they continue to owe legal obligations to their staff. Out of sight should not mean out of mind. Kate Redshaw explains what businesses need to consider when asking people to work from home.

2.45pm Fifth of employers still do not have a coronavirus business contingency plan, survey finds

A fifth of organisations still have no business contingency plan in place to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, a survey of HR professionals has found. This is almost half the number of businesses without a plan just over two weeks ago, but experts said the figure showed many companies still have not “fully grasped the seriousness” of the outbreak.

The findings are part of a follow-up survey by People Management and the CIPD, which polled HR professionals earlier this month and again last week to find out what they were doing in their organisations to deal with the threats posed by coronavirus.

2.30pm Job retention scheme could create resentment among staff still working, experts warn

Following Friday’s announcement that, as part of the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers would be able to secure grants from HMRC to cover 80 per cent of the wages of staff who were on the payroll but not working because of the outbreak, experts have warned that temporarily laying off staff on reduced pay could cause resentment from staff still required to work.

Although largely welcomed, concerns were also raised about the potential of unscrupulous employers abusing the new scheme by claiming money for employees who have already been made redundant.

12pm UK government in talks with industry to get coronavirus tests to frontline staff

The UK government has approached Amazon and other companies about using their services to urgently increase the delivery of coronavirus tests to frontline health and social care workers. This follows workers at hospitals and care homes for the elderly across the country expressing rising frustration about a lack of tests.

11am Commuters to get refund on rail season tickets

Commuters with rail season tickets will receive a refund if they choose to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, the government has promised.

8.30am Restaurant and store closure announcements soar over the weekend

McDonald’s became the latest to join those retailers and restaurant chains announcing closures, late Sunday (22 March) night. All McDonalds venues in the UK and the Republic of Ireland will close by 7pm today. Patisserie Valerie and Nando’s have also said they would close. 

Fashion retailer Primark closed all 189 of its UK stores from Sunday evening. About 37,000 employees will be affected by the closures but will be provided with full pay for 14 days, the company said. 

Waterstones’ chief executive, James Daunt, had said his bookstore chain was “no different to a supermarket or a pharmacy” and would stay open during the coronavirus shutdown. But then he said the chain had decided to close after some staff complained they felt at risk in the stores and had not been given any protective equipment such as hand sanitiser or gloves.

8.15am Self-employed union threatens legal action over freelancer sick pay

Gig workers are threatening legal action against chancellor Rishi Sunak’s current “discriminatory” policy of giving employees 80 per cent of their salaries if laid off, capped at £2,500 per month, but self-employed workers only £94.25 a week in universal credit. 

A survey released by the RSA over the weekend found 47 per cent of the self-employed and 51 per cent in ‘atypical’ work, such as those on zero-hours contracts, would feel obliged to work even if they had the virus. Today (23 March) lawyers for the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain will send a pre-action letter ahead of issuing proceedings for a High Court judicial review.

8am Pets at Home under fire for claiming staff are key workers

Pet supplies chain Pets at Home faced a social media backlash over the weekend after it sent a letter asserting that its staff qualified for the coronavirus key workers list. The letter was drafted by the retail company for its employees to allow them to apply to headteachers for emergency school childcare. The letter emerged as concerns continued that the key workers list is too loosely defined to ensure manageable numbers of children return to schools.

Friday 20 March

5.30pm Government to pay 80 per cent of wages of laid off staff

The prime minister has called for all cafes, bars, gyms and restaurants not to re-open after they close today.

Meanwhile, chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government would pay 80 per cent of the wages of staff who have been temporarily laid off as part of a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

Sunak said all employers will be able to apply for grants worth 80 per cent of the wages of workers on retention up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be open for at least three months – and be extended if necessary – and the chancellor said there would be unlimited funds to support it. “We expect the first grants to be paid in weeks, and we aim to get it done by the end of April,” he said.

“The government is doing its best to stand behind you and I am asking you to do your best to stand behind our workers,” Sunak said, adding that employers should look "very carefully” at the support available before laying people off.

The chancellor also increased the universal credit standard allowance by £1,000 for the next 12 months, and suspended the minimum income floor, allowing the self-employed to in essence access the equivalent of statutory sick pay through the Universal Credit scheme.

4.20pm All ‘non-essential’ businesses to close in New York State

All non-essential businesses in the state of New York will close as of Sunday, governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered. Essential services like hospitals, food shops, public transport and pharmacies will remain open, and businesses that don’t comply face fines, the governor said, adding the restriction could last for months. New York State has recorded 7,102 confirmed cases of the virus, including 4,408 in New York City alone. There have been 35 coronavirus-related deaths in the state so far.

2.30pm How can employers avoid redundancies?

With industries including travel, hospitality and retail under extreme financial pressure as a result of measures to limit the spread of coronavirus in the UK, many businesses are facing difficult decisions when it comes to the employment of staff. People Management explains seven options that businesses struggling financially in the wake of Covid-19 can consider when faced with laying off staff.

2.25pm Staff anxiety the biggest coronavirus challenge for businesses, survey finds

To explore what employers are doing to tackle the threat posed by coronavirus, People Management and the CIPD have been polling people professionals and asking them about their companies’ responses to the outbreak. After running an initial survey at the start of this month, People Management ran a second to find out how employers have developed or changed their response as the crisis has unfolded, and will be covering this second poll further over the coming days.

The latest survey, which polled more than 390 employers, found nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents cited general anxiety as their organisation’s main challenge currently. The next biggest challenges were found to be staff not being able to work from home (60 per cent), and parents being unable to come to work because of school closures (53 per cent).

2pm Remote working tips from a CEO who’s been there

Chris Dyer had to roll out home working for all staff when his company faced difficulties in the late 2000s. He shares the lessons he learned and how they can apply to today’s coronavirus outbreak.

11am Recently retired NHS staff asked to return to the frontline

Letters are being sent to more than 65,000 retired doctors and nurses asking them to return to the NHS to bolster frontline services and help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC reported, with Scotland also writing to anyone who has left the medical profession during the last three years.

9.10am Supermarkets to create thousands of jobs to meet demands of coronavirus

Co-op yesterday announced it was creating 5,000 jobs in its stores aimed specifically at providing work for those who have lost jobs in the hospitality sector. Jo Whitfield, the retailer’s CEO, said it made “perfect sense for us to try and temporarily absorb part of this highly skilled and talented workforce... as we work together to feed the nation”. Other supermarkets including Waitrose, Tesco, Aldi and Morrisons have also announced they plan to increase staffing numbers either on the shop floor or in delivery or distribution roles.

9.00am List of ‘key workers’ exempt from school closures released

The government has released its full list of key workers whose children will still be allowed to attend schools after they have been closed to the majority of pupils at the end of today. They include frontline health care workers, workers in key public services including the justice system and police staff, and those involved in food production including processing, deliveries and sales, and workers for key utilities among others.

The government added that, where possible, children of parents in these key sectors should still be kept at home.

Thursday 19 March

6pm Huge spikes in workforce collaboration platform use

Slack and Microsoft have both reported big jumps in the number of new users and business from their workforce collaboration platforms, according to the FT

Slack’s group messaging app has notched up a net increase of 7,000 paying customers since the start of February, or 40 per cent more than it normally has in an entire quarter. Microsoft said the number of people using its rival Teams service on a single day early this week reached a record 44 million. 

5.30pm 'Stand by your employees', says PM

In his latest daily press conference, Boris Johnson urged businesses to look after their employees. The prime minister told employers to “stand by employees, stand by workers, as we will stand by you,” while reiterating calls for people to work from home where possible.

Johnson did not announce any further measures following yesterday’s announcement to close schools, but claimed the UK could “turn the tide” on the outbreak in 12 weeks if everyone stuck to the current guidance.

5pm Clarks closes stores but continues to pay staff

Footwear retailer Clarks has announced it has temporarily closed all its stores in the UK for the health and safety of its employees, but has said all store staff would continue to receive full pay and benefits during the closure. “We will continue to monitor the situation and will be reviewing the decision of when to re-open our stores when the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers can be protected,” the retailer said in a statement. Some franchise stores may remain open.

4.30pm Snapchat fast-tracks mental health help feature

Snapchat is speeding up the launch of a tool to help users with mental health issues. Today, it is expanding Here For You, a new feature that shows users resources from specialist partners when they search for certain topics related to mental health, including anxiety, depression, stress, suicidal thoughts, grief and bullying. It was due to roll out next month.

4pm What do the government’s latest coronavirus measures mean for employers?

The government has promised to do “whatever it takes” to tackle coronavirus, including a package of financial measures estimated to be worth £350bn to shore up the economy and to assist employers in these challenging times. Anna Cope and Rebecca Hayes explain the implications for employers of new initiatives designed to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

3.50pm How to support staff with coronavirus anxiety

The uncertainty of the Covid-19 outbreak causing increased concern among workers. While some stress is good for us – in this case making people more likely to act on health and hygiene warnings – it needs to be manageable. Brendan Street explains how to support staff who are worried.

3pm UNLEASH Spring conference cancelled

Following organisers suspending the show last week, it has now been announced that UNLEASH Spring 2020, due to take place on 24 and 25 March at ExCeL London, has been cancelled. In a statement, its organisers said: “We have been monitoring the situation closely whilst exploring the full range of options for the event – including postponement to a later date in the year – but have concluded that it is in the best interests of our community to cancel the 2020 event.”

1.10pm How are HR consultants coping with coronavirus?

Freelance people professionals are likely to see less demand as firms reduce their operations, but there's an opportunity to model flexible working and alternate delivery methods for meetings and training. People Management  asked three HR consultants what the impact of the virus is likely to be for them.

12.50pm Business bodies call for more support for parents working from home

Experts have called for more support to be given to working parents, who will inevitably be stretched by yesterday’s decision to close schools at the end of this week. Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD has said employers will have to accept there will be disruptions as parents struggle to balance work, childcare responsibilities and in many cases helping their children access online school activities.

A poll of workers by the CIPD found less than half of parents would be able to work from home if schools were closed. In contrast, a separate survey by People Management and the CIPD found 71 per cent of employers would encourage parents to work from home in the event of school closures, suggesting a disconnect between employers and their workforce.

10.30am London could be locked down as early as Friday

Following the announcement that schools will close at the end of this week, there has been speculation that London – where the outbreak has progressed further than the rest of the UK – could be put into lockdown before the rest of the country. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, who is briefed on the government’s UK-wide policy thinking, has said officials were thinking about introducing restrictions in London, while Boris Johnson has said he would rule nothing out.

Transport for London has already reduced tube and bus services in the capital, announcing it has closed nine stations and could shut up to 40. Night tube services will also be suspended. Londoners have been told not to use public transport unless absolutely necessary to keep services available for key workers including healthcare workers and the police.

Wednesday 18 March

5.20pm Schools in England to close to all apart from children of key workers

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said all schools in England would shut after Friday to all pupils apart from children of parents of key workers, such as healthcare staff and delivery drivers, and of the most vulnerable children.

3.45pm Schools in Scotland and Wales to close

Schools in Scotland and Wales are to close on Friday in response to the coronavirus outbreak, with reports saying England is likely to announce school closures later today. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has said schools there now have too few staff to run as normal, and has warned they may not reopen before the summer break.

3.30pm Co-op launches recruitment drive

Central England Co-op has launched a recruitment drive for customer service advisers across many of its 242 food stores, as part of a campaign aimed at bringing communities together to support those affected by the coronavirus. The campaign has also involved the launch of a food bank appeal. 

2.30pm Millions of jobs now at risk in leisure and hospitality, says industry body

“Our analysis suggests in excess of one million jobs are now on the line,” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, told the Financial Times. “Job cuts are extraordinarily deep and they are happening now. What the sector urgently needs is a package of support and funding to keep people in employment. This needs to happen now – within 24 hours.”

2pm Adobe offers free Creative Cloud for home workers

Adobe is offering 60 days free use of its Creative Cloud software to make working from home easier (and cheaper) during global self-isolation and lockdown measures. 

1.30pm What does enforced home working mean for employee wellbeing?

With the lines between staff’s personal and professional lives becoming blurred, working remotely won’t necessarily improve work-life balance, warns Emma Parry, who offers HR advice on mitigating this, including setting expectations around what is expected from employees and checking a suitable working environment is available. 

1pm Coronavirus will have ‘significant consequences’ for recruitment industry

Coronavirus is already having a considerable impact on the jobs market, employers plans to hire and the recruitment industry as a whole, experts have warned. Those who are still hiring will need to carefully consider how fair and inclusive virtual assessment and selection methods are, experts said, with some adding that the move from in-person to virtual recruitment, and the widespread use of home working during the outbreak, could also change the way employers hire for the better.

9am Rollout of private sector IR35 changes delayed for a year

Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury, has said the controversial changes to off-payroll due to come into effect this April would be delayed for a year, in a surprise move that reverses the government’s long-held position that the rollout would go ahead despite opposition from employers and freelance groups. The move is part of Treasury’s plans to protect the economy from the coronavirus. The change will now come into effect in April 2021.

Under IR35, contractors whose jobs resemble that of an employee are required to pay the same taxes as an employee. The change would see the responsibility of categorising whether a contractor is caught by the rule move to the employer.

Tuesday 17 March

2pm What does coronavirus mean for health, safety and the GDPR?

With up to a fifth of the UK’s workforce potentially absent from work as a result of Covid-19, and many more than usual working remotely, Steven Harte explains there are a range of legal implications employers may not have considered. Health and safety legislation extends to home working, while remote working brings its own data protection risks. Harte outlines what employers need to know.

1.30pm HR has a critical role in these remote working times

The coronavirus outbreak means many will be working from home, so people teams must communicate more carefully with staff and help leaders manage performance. For some companies this is already firmly embedded in the culture, but for many it will be a bit of a shock to the system. Ian MacRae offers some top tips for employers on how to stay in touch with a remote workforce.

11am Hundreds of thousands of hospitality jobs will be lost, warn industry bosses

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin has written to Boris Johnson saying the industry faces an “existential crisis” as a result of government guidance issued yesterday (16 March) advising people not to go to pubs, bars and restaurants but stopping short of ordering entertainment venues to close. “Thousands of pubs and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost in the very short term unless a proactive package creating cash and liquidity is provided immediately to the industry,” she said.

8am Amazon to hire more workers while airlines make layoffs

Amazon has announced it will hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the US, and increase pay for staff in the UK, US and Europe, to deal with a surge in sales caused by coronavirus. It is hoping to attract people who had been working in the restaurant, travel and entertainment industries but are now out of work. Meanwhile, Norwegian Air has announced it will lay off more than 7,500 staff, and Virgin Atlantic has asked employees to take eight weeks’ unpaid leave over the next three months, with the cost spread over six months' salary, or voluntary redundancy.

Monday 16 March

5.10pm Prime minister says ‘everyone’ should avoid ‘non-essential contact’ with others

In a statement this afternoon, Boris Johnson said: “We need to start working from home,” and told people to avoid unnecessary travel or going to pubs, clubs or other “social venues”. He added that everyone with a cough or a temperature should stay at home for 14 days, but stopped short of closing schools.

3.50pm Falling passenger numbers could cost TfL £500m

TfL has said it could miss out on £500m in revenue because of reduced passenger numbers as a growing number of people work from home during the coronavirus outbreak. Other public transport providers have also been affected, with the government reportedly in talks with the rail industry over steps to protect franchises from falling passenger numbers. 

3.10pm Spike in video interviews as employers recruit remotely

A staffing firm has said it has seen an unprecedented surge in the number of companies undertaking video interviews instead of conducting them face to face. Walters People has said over the last four weeks it has had a 67 per cent rise in the number of employers recruiting remotely.

2.45pm Five tips on running a remote working drill

As the UK potentially moves closer to a lockdown, all employers have been urged to stress-test their capacity to eventually oblige staff to work from home. People Management offers some top tips on running such a drill.

2.30pm Trade body calls for government-funded temporary staff redundancies

UKHospitality has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak, urging him to introduce measures to make it easier for employers to make staff temporarily redundant by funding this through universal credit. Temporary redundancies, also known as layoffs, are currently allowed under employment law, but unless an employer has a layoff clause in their contract, they are required to pay full wages during this period – making such measures inaccessible to many employers.

1.10pm Danish government to help cover struggling firms’ salary bills

The Danish government will pay part of the wages of staff working at companies that face making redundancies as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. As part of an agreement between the government, unions and employers associations, employers that are at risk of having to let go either 30 per cent of their staff or more than 50 individuals will have 75 per cent of their employees' salaries paid for by the government.

9.00am Internet can cope with increase in working from home, says BT

BT has said its residential network will be able to cope with the increased strain expected from the growing number of people working from home. Speaking to the Financial Times, Howard Watson, the firm’s chief technology and information officer, said that while people’s usage patterns were likely to change, there were no signs that the network would be unable to cope.

Saturday 14 March

9.00am Hospitality sector calls for redundancy laws to be relaxed

UK Hospitality has called on the government to change redundancy laws to allow temporary redundancy during the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC has reported. In a letter to the chancellor sent over the weekend, the industry body has warned that without additional flexibility, businesses in the sector would fail, causing a “significant number” of jobs to disappear.

8.30am Employees on statutory sick pay would face financial hardship after just one week off work

A quarter of workers who would receive either the minimum statutory sick pay (SSP) or no pay at all would struggle to buy food or pay bills after just one week off, a survey of employees by the CIPD has found. The poll found 24 per cent of employees would receive SSP and 7 per cent would have to take unpaid leave if they were self-isolating because of coronavirus, with just half of employees expecting to receive their regular salary.

Friday 13 March

10.00am: Time Out closes five offices internationally

Publisher Time Out Group has closed five of its offices in Portugal and the US in response to local government guidelines and in the interest of customer safety. The brand has also changed its London logo to Time In, noting that “leaving the house might not be on everyone's agenda at the minute".

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