// Matalan offers distribution centre staff the chance to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic
// Their salaries would be covered under the government’s offer to pay 80% of wages
// Follows concerns about workers gathering in large numbers at the site
Matalan is offering staff at its distribution centre the chance to stay at home and come under the government’s scheme for paying 80 per cent of salaries for workers on furlough.
The fashion retailer said the move at its site in Knowsley, Merseyside, would ensure that anyone wanting to stay at home would have access to government support packages for staff whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The GMB union welcomed the announcement following concerns about workers gathering in large numbers at the site.
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A spokesman for Matalan said: “Along with the rest of the retail industry, we continue to operate our online business closely following the government guidance, going above and beyond to ensure the safety of both our employees and our customers.
“Over the past few days, we are pleased to have received approval from both the environmental health officer and a representative of the GMB, who have both visited our Knowsley distribution centre and have both deemed the site safe to work.
“Furthermore, since these visits we shut down our warehouse for three days to undertake a deeper clean of the site.
“We are taking our responsibility as a large North West employer to look after our staff extremely seriously.
“We are therefore now going one step further and all our colleagues are being offered the option to stay at home and be placed in furlough from March 30 for the time being.
“This will ensure that those who choose not to come to work have access to government support packages where available.
“Since the outbreak of Covid-19 we have closely followed the government guidance and WHO (World Health Organisation) and have operated our warehouses with a number of precautions in place to enhance everyone’s ability to operate safely.
“We have continuously increased these measures further as official advice has developed and will continue to do so.
“Matalan has been one of Britain’s household names for 35 years but never have we faced such difficult and unpredictable times. We want to thank all our colleagues for their hard work, support and dedication during this incredibly difficult time.”
GMB official Shaun Buckley said: “This is a big win for the health and safety of our members, not to mention plain common sense.
“We were inundated with messages from worried GMB members in a state of panic that Matalan bosses were putting workers and their families’ lives at risk.
“But after sustained pressure from GMB, Matalan workers and local politicians the company is now doing the right thing.”
with PA Wires