// Next & Dixons Carphone execs call for furlough scheme clarity to avoid mass redundancies
// The retailers said government support for jobs will end before they can resume operations
Next and Dixons Carphone bosses have reportedly urged the government to provide answers over the taxpayer-funded furlough scheme as concerns grow over a wave of redundancies.
The retailers expressed fears that government support for jobs will end before companies can resume operations and start paying staff again, The Telegraph reported.
Next chief executive Lord Wolfson and Dixons Carphone chief executive Alex Baldock both said thousands of jobs could be threatened by an abrupt end to the scheme, which is due to finish on June 30.
- Coronavirus wipes 41% off Next’s quarterly sales
- Lockdown drives Dixons Carphone online sales by 166%
The retail chiefs raised the concerns as the Treasury weighs up plans to introduce a flexible furlough scheme that would allow retailers to partially bring workers back.
The scheme covers 80 per cent of workers’ salaries up to £2500 a month and is currently paying the wages of around four million people.
Next chief executive Lord Wolfson praised ministers’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic by introducing measures to support companies.
He added that guidance was “needed” on what to do about staff who are vulnerable or sole carers of their children and can’t come back to work if Next stores reopen.
About seven per cent of Next’s workforce fall into those categories, or about 640 people.
Meanwhile, Baldock placed 16,500 Dixons Carphone employees on furlough.
Companies laying off more than 100 employees must carry out a 45-day consultation beforehand.
To avoid having to pay returning staff from July 1, employers would need to start sackings by mid-May.
On Wednesday, Next warned that its full-price sales are expected to fall by 40 per cent due to the lockdown, while Dixons Carphone saw like-for-like sales over the last five weeks drop by three per cent.