// Morrisons launches a “hardship fund” for staff facing financial difficulty as a result of coronavirus
// Customers encouraged to pay by card instead of cash
// Home delivery to be expanded to meet growing demand
// Morrisons will also offer new jobs to people impacted by the outbreak
Morrisons has unveiled a raft of new measures aimed at helping staff and vulnerable community members as the coronavirus crisis continues to deepen in the UK.
The Big 4 grocer said it would do “its bit during the emergency” with a plan to protect and help staff, expand home delivery to more households, and create an extra 3500 jobs.
These measures follow on from Morrisons’ announcement last week that it would be implementing immediate payments for its smaller suppliers, supporting their cashflow as the spread of Covid-19 prompts national and global economic uncertainty.
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Morrisons said the creation of a new colleague hardship fund will aim to support colleagues who are in financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Staff will be able to apply for funds if they experience a financial setback and are struggling to make ends meet.
Morrisons also said staff who are sick with the coronavirus will receive sick pay whether or not they would normally be eligible.
The grocery giant added that staff who are affected either because of self isolation – or due to looking after close family or vulnerable community members – will also be eligible for sick pay, alternative shifts or holiday.
Another key element of Morrisons’ coronavirus response includes introducing new ways of delivering groceries and more slots for customers, which are aimed at helping vulnerable people and those affected by the virus.
The new delivery measures include launching a new range of simple-to-order food parcels from March 23, making more delivery slots available to customers both through its own website and the Morrisons store on Amazon Prime Now.
Morrisons will also use 100 further stores to pick customers’ shopping over the coming weeks, launch a customer call centre for orders to be taken over the phone so that people who do not shop online can still order food.
To support the roll-out of these expanded home delivery methods, Morrisons said it would recruit around 2500 pickers and drivers.
The Big 4 grocer said that it would recruit an additional 1000 people to work at its distribution centres.
However, the firm said it would be offering the jobs to “people that are impacted” by the coronavirus, and the vacancies will be advertised through a campaign on radio, social media and on Morrisons’ online jobs board.
The final element of Morrisons’ coronavirus response is encouraging customers to pay by card or smartphones at checkouts in order to reduce cash handling.
The retailer added it would issue hand sanitisers to checkouts at all stores and significantly increase cleaning on places that colleagues and customers touch, while also redeploying staff who are vulnerable to the virus, where possible.
“We expect the days, weeks and months ahead to be very testing and we are determined to do our bit,” Morrisons chief executive David Potts said.
“These measures will support our very hard-working colleagues, enable us to provide more food to more people in their homes and create opportunities for people whose jobs are affected by the coronavirus.”