March 23 2020 @ 16:46 by Richard Dawson
Hays Travel, a North East-based travel agent, has put 880 staff on zero-hours contracts across its nationwide chain of stores as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Sunderland firm, which purchased 555 Thomas Cook stores in 2019 and took on 2330 of its former staff, said that it had lost £400,000 in one day, which was “unsustainable”.
The move reduces the hours of 880 of its workforce to zero, while the remaining portion of its 5700 staff will be working half hours.
Earlier this month, Hays Travel staff were also asked to take voluntary leave.
In a statement, owners John and Irene Hays said: “Despite doing everything in our power to protect the business and retain jobs, we have regrettably had to reduce working hours to zero for 880 colleagues, and to 50 per cent for everyone else for the next four weeks.
“There have been no redundancies.
“The pandemic has been devastating for our business and the whole industry.
“Four weeks ago, we were on an upward trajectory — now we are losing revenue by the hour.
“We have asked the Government for significant support for salaries to ensure that we can retain our highly skilled staff and a travel industry for when this current emergency passes.
“People are of course very upset but we have had continued support from colleagues who understand this is unprecedented.
“Our main concern is for the health and wellbeing of colleagues, customers and the communities we serve — many of them will be impacted personally and financially.
“Meanwhile, we continue to encourage people to book their holidays now for next year and we have introduced a Peace of Mind guarantee to help them have confidence in booking now.”