Royal Mail Group has retained almost a third of the temporary workers it took on for Christmas.
In its trading update today (11 February) the parcel and mail delivery giant said it had kept on around 10,000 of the 33,000 flexible workers it recruited for the festive peak.
However, it has faced staffing difficulties over the winter, with employees self-isolating and the firm having to make operational changes to maintain social distancing amid high Covid-19 infection rates and the emergence of more virulent strains.
Royal Mail said it faced the busiest quarter for parcel deliveries in the firm’s history with 496 million parcels handled in the final quarter of 2020.
On its busiest day, workers delivered 11.7 million parcels – 32% more than its busiest day during the first national lockdown last year.
It admitted that, combined with increased absence rates due to Covid-19, this had had an impact on the quality of its service.
Royal Mail Group’s non-executive chair, Keith Williams, said: “At Royal Mail our busiest day during the quarter saw 32% more parcels delivered than our busiest day during the first national lockdown in 2020. Given these record volumes, we recognise that at times our service during the period was not always as we would have wished.
“But thanks to the efforts of our team, the retention of around 10,000 of the 33,000 flexible workers from the Christmas peak, and the introduction of new processes, we have been making encouraging progress. We are resolutely focused on delivering a comprehensive service despite the challenging circumstances.”
Royal Mail has also delivered one billion items of PPE to care homes, GP surgeries and social care providers since April 2020.
In December, Royal Mail reached what the Communication Workers Union called a “landmark” deal to settle a long-running dispute with workers over pay and conditions.
The staff saw a 3.7% pay increase, backdated to April 2020, plus a one hour reduction in their working week.
Royal Mail said it would make no compulsory redundancies and committed to creating jobs.