Some European Businesses Are Giving Pay Hikes For Frontline Staff Working Amid Pandemic

There are a number of companies that are rewarding their frontline workers with salary increases for working under trying circumstances amid the coronavirus pandemic even as many companies globally have been forced to slash payments and salaries of staff because of the economic impact of the pandemic.

Almost two out of five workers around the world currently work in sectors or industries that are facing the risk of seeing a “drastic and devastating” reduction in working hours, wage cuts and layoffs, warned an estimate of the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation. The sectors include retail, manufacturing, transport and storage.

According to latest figures from Johns Hopkins University, the coronavirus pandemic has infected close to 1.5 million globally and this forced many countries to impose strict measures such as lockdown in order to prevent the spread of the pandemic and this also includes the closure of all forms of non essential businesses.

However a few businesses in the impacted sectors such as grocery are now open and running as they are now considered essential in aiding countries to remain functional during lockdowns. This has prompted many of the grocers and other essential businesses to look out to hiring more workers because of increased demand for products as people shore up stocks and those needs to be filled up quickly.

These frontline workers are putting themselves at risk of exposure to the coronavirus by continuing to go to work even as millions of others have been forced to stay back at home to protect themselves and others.

And now some businesses are offering pay raises in recognition to the efforts of those frontline workers.

For example, there has been a 15 per cent pay hike for frontline workers, such as shop assistants between April 5 and May 31 by British supermarket Marks & Spencer. On the other hand, an additional worth 10 per cent of the hours they have worked between March 8 and April 5 was announced for its workers by Sainsbury’s supermarket.

The suspension of business rates — a tax paid on commercial property, is benefiting some British businesses, like retailers. Last month U.K. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak introduced this holiday from the property tax in the form of an oevrall relief package for industries and businesses which was worth a total of almost $400 billion with the aim of supporting businesses during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

Pay hikes are also being seen in the telecom sector with all front line staff such as engineers of BT to be given a 1.5 per cent raise in annual pay from July 1. The company is also increasing pay for other non-managerial employees. This increase was however lower than the 3 per cent that was given by the company in salary increase for its employees last year. However BT is viewed to be one of the very few British companies that are actually giving any rise in pay at all.

Italian pasta manufacturer Pastificio Rana is offering a 25 per cent hike to workers in pay for each day they work across five production sites in the country even as the country is hit the hardest among European countries by the coronavirus pandemic. The company is also giving staff an additional monthly allowance of 400 euros ($435) for childcare expenses.

The Spanish supermarket Consum gave its workers a bonus totaling 3.8 million euros in March as encouragement to work in the wave of the thousands of deaths recorded in the country because of the virus pandemic.

(Adapted from CNBC.com)

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