Pub group Shepherd Neame asks 85% of its staff to step aside

Shepherd Neame kitchen

Pub group Shepherd Neame is asking 85% of its staff to step aside from their current roles on a temporary basis as it implements measures to see it through the coronavirus crisis.

The 320-strong chain has announced a temporary change to its staffing structure and salary levels in light of the ongoing Covid-19 situation in a move that it said would protect jobs for the long term.

It stressed that none of Shepherd Neame’s staff are being made redundant and all will remain employed by the company in the hope that the teams will be reunited and able to resume their normal work on full pay as soon as possible.

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The company said it would be accessing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, whereby the government will pay 80% of the wages of those affected up to £30,000 per annum.

On top of this, it will fund the wages of all those affected earning above £30,000 per annum so that they continue to receive 80% of their normal pay.

All hourly paid staff in Shepherd Neame’s pub estate will have their pay settled for March in full and paid on the normal date.

Shepherd Neame is requesting that around 85% of its people step aside from their current roles on a temporary basis. Approximately 1,300 people will be affected across the managed pub estate and head office.

For those staff that remain in active work, Shepherd Neame will be asking the higher paid members of its team to support the collective effort by implementing a temporary salary reduction of between 10% and 15%.

This follows an announcement last week that directors have volunteered to take a 20% reduction in salary.

These measures will be implemented in a phased approach in line with business demand, commencing on Sunday 29 March.

The steps are being taken in the absence of any detailed information from the government and apply for one month only at this stage until the end of April. They will be kept under regular review according to developments.

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

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

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Andrew Seymour

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