Cineworld is ‘exploring’ how to assist members of staff dismissed amid the coronavirus pandemic after the government pledged to pay 80% of employees’ wages.
Earlier this week the chain began laying off staff with immediate effect as cinemas across the UK closed. It is not known exactly how many employees were let go.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak then announced on Friday that the government would pay 80% of the salaries of staff kept on by their employers, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month. The new ‘unprecedented’ measures are intended to stop workers from losing their jobs.
When asked about how this would impact staff already let go from Cineworld, a spokesperson said they were ‘very pleased’ about the new development. They told Metro.co.uk: ‘We made a number of offers to our employees earlier this week including partial payments until we are able to re-open cinemas.
‘Following the announcement by the government yesterday around the support they are now offering the leisure industry, including cinemas and their employees, we have written to our employees to let them know that we are currently reviewing this and exploring whether there are alternative options.’
Cineworld had previously described the coronavirus pandemic as an ‘incredibly challenging time’ in a statement announcing the closure of cinemas across the UK.
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They said the company valued their employees and would be doing ‘everything we viably can to support them in these difficult and uncertain times’.
However, one member of staff, from Liverpool, claimed the Cineworld she worked at had seen more than 50 long-term employees let go, while newer workers kept their jobs.
She claimed this was because the long-term members of staff had different and better sick pay rights than those who had been working for less than 18 months.
The woman, who had been working at Cineworld for nearly two years, said she was also notified of her job loss by email.
In response to this allegations, the spokesperson for Cineworld said: ‘We are an equal opportunities employer and our offers were not connected in any way to age or any other personal factors.’
During the press conference on Friday, Sunak said the government will pay up to 80% of at-risk workers’ salaries for a period of at least three months. The scheme will be extended if necessary and will have ‘no limit’ of funding.
He also announced measures to defer the next quarter of VAT payments and increase the Universal Credit standard allowance.
The Chancellor said: ‘We want to look back on this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us. We want to look back on this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency.
‘We want to look back on this time and remember how in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort and we stood together.’
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