Primark will not take up job retention bonus

Associated British Foods, Primark's owner, said it had furloughed 68,000 workers worldwide. Photo: Bastian Pudill/Shutterstock

Primark has announced it will not take up the government’s offer of a bonus offered last week for taking back furloughed workers into full employment.

The scheme, unveiled by chancellor Rishi Sunak in his summer statement last week, allows for companies to be paid a job retention bonus of £1,000 for every worker brought back from furlough.

However, Primark, which reopened most of its stores in June, said it “shouldn’t be necessary” for it to take advantage of the scheme.

A spokesman for Primark’s parent group ABF said: “I can confirm that Primark does not intend to take advantage of support under the Job Retention Bonus announced by the chancellor.

“The company removed its employees from government employment support schemes in the UK and Europe in line with the reopening of the majority of its stores. The company believes it should not be necessary therefore to apply for payment under the bonus scheme in current circumstances.”

Dublin-headquartered Primark previously said most of its 70,000 workers around Europe would have had to have been laid off had it not been for various government furlough schemes. Nearly half of its staff, about 30,000, are in the UK.

Sunak’s bonus scheme would cost the Treasury up to £9bn if all nine million people on furlough in the UK were rehired by their employers. It has been criticised by some as being inconsequential with the CIPD saying it was “not convinced” the scheme would provide sufficient incentive for employers to bring workers back, “beyond those they would be planning to bring anyway”.

John Lewis, which furloughed 14,000 staff from its shops and recently announced it was to close eight stores putting 1,300 jobs at risk, is thought to be unlikely to take advantage of the handout. William Hill has also indicated it may reject the cash.

A spokesperson for John Lewis told Personnel Today: “We will no longer be taking part in the Covid Jobs Retention Scheme from the end of this month.”

Other companies such as McDonald’s, Wetherspoons, Greggs and Arcadia Group are still weighing up using the scheme.

McDonald’s furloughed could be in line for a £135m grant after furloughing 135,000 staff. Wetherspoons could receive about £43m under the scheme, Greene King £38m, Greggs £25m and the Arcadia Group at £14.5m.

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