Coronavirus: Primark refuses £30m government bonus for bringing back furloughed workers

12 July 2020, 16:05 | Updated: 13 July 2020, 10:00

Primark will not take advantage of a £30m bonus offered by the government for bringing its staff back from furlough, the retailer has announced.

The budget fashion brand has already brought back almost all 30,000 members of staff it furloughed in March when the coronavirus crisis hit the UK - apart from those working at its two stores in Leicester.

But despite the chancellor's offer of a £1,000 job retention bonus for every employee who returns to work, Primark says "it should not be necessary".

A spokeswoman for the brand, which is owned by AB Foods, said on Sunday: "I can confirm that Primark does not intend to take advantage of support under the job retention bonus announced by the chancellor this week.

"The company removed its employees from government employment support schemes in the UK and Europe in line with the reopening of the majority of its stores.

"The company believes it should not be necessary therefore to apply for payment under the bonus scheme on current circumstances."

The new scheme could cost the government £9bn if the employers of all nine million people who have been put on furlough take ministers up on it.

Primark's decision could encourage other big brands not to take taxpayer cash. John Lewis is understood to have come to the same conclusion.

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Companies are only eligible for the bonus if workers are kept in employment for at least three months after the government's job retention scheme ends in October.

Primark was allowed to reopen with all other non-essential shops in June, but its stores in Leicester remain closed due to local COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

They are still being paid through the government's job retention scheme, a spokesman told Sky News.

The nationwide closures cost the firm £650m a month in net sales.