The British independent travel chain hit headlines last year when it rescued Thomas Cook, but fortunes have changed for the tourism sector
Hays Travel has announced that it will cut up to 878 jobs from their workforce of 4,500 employees, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have devastating impacts on the travel industry.
Owners of Hays Travel, John and Irene Hays, have blamed the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, with them recently advising against all non-essential travel to Spain, as well as the changes to the conditions of the nation’s furlough scheme, saying that these two changes had left the firm with “no choice”.
They said: “We are devastated that after all of our efforts and the huge investment we’ve made we now face losing some of our valued employees, through no fault of their own.”
“Following the decision to ban travel to Spain and the changes in furlough conditions coming at the same time, we have had no choice.”
This comes after a government minister has defended the decision of the Conservative Party to not suspend an MP who was arrested on suspicion of rape. UK Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that it is “right” to wait for the conclusion of a police investigation into the claims.
The Sunderland-based Travel firm, Hays, is the largest independent travel chain throughout the entire UK and had previously hit the headlines in October after it rescued more than 500 Thomas Cook stores from closure.
At the time, Hays is said to have taken on almost 600 Thomas Cook employees, with further job offers pending for many more staff.
But Monday’s news comes at a time when the majority of businesses in the sector are feeling the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an effort to help businesses, the government had set up the job retention scheme, also known as the furlough scheme, to avoid redundancies on a large scale during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.
When the furlough scheme began in March, the government covered 80% of staff monthly salaries up to £2,500, but the support is due to begin tapering off, despite some businesses still not being permitted to reopen and others being constrained by the social distancing rules in place.
This month, employers will be required to begin paying their staff’s national insurance and pension contributions. In September, firms will have to start paying 10% of furloughed employees’ salaries, which will rise to 20% in October before the job retention scheme finishes.
John and Irene Hays have said that they were “devastated” over the job losses at their firm and would do “all we can in consultations” to help those affected by the recent cuts
They also vowed to “focus on retaining as many people as possible and (rebuild) consumer confidence through our renowned friendly and knowledgeable customer service”.