Oxfam to furlough two-thirds of staff in response to lockdown

The charity, which employs about 2,100 people in the UK, says that the affected staff, most of whom work in its trading arm, will be sent home until at least 1 June

Oxfam GB is to furlough about two-thirds of its 2,100-strong UK workforce because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity said today that the affected staff, most of whom work in its trading arm, would be sent home until at least 1 June.

Last weekend, Oxfam closed all of its UK stores, which bring in about £7m in gross income a month, and earlier this week it said it would cease selling second-hand items through its online store.

It said that, in addition to lost income from its trading arm, a number of key fundraising events, such as music festivals and the London Marathon, had also been cancelled.

The government announced last week that it would pay up to 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed employees, up to £2,500 a month, in response to the widespread shutdown of companies and services because of Covid-19.

Oxfam said it would ensure that all furloughed staff would continue to be paid at least the living wage.

The charity said that about two-thirds of the furloughed staff were expected to be in its trading operation, including shop managers, staff at its online hubs and workers at its recycling warehouse in Batley, west Yorkshire.

The exact number of employees to be furloughed would be decided after discussions with staff, the charity said.

Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said: “Faced with reduced income and the urgent need to prioritise our response to Covid-19, we have been left with no option but to act.

“Covid-19 has brought tragedy and immense disruption to the UK and countries across the world, and Oxfam is not immune to its effects.

“Our challenge now is to do everything we can to protect the people we work with from its deadly spread, many of whom are already hungry, homeless or without healthcare. It is one we are determined to meet.”

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