Luxury car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover has furloughed up to 20,000 staff – half its entire UK workforce.
The company said it has “furloughed all roles that are not critical during this temporary period of disruption” caused by the outbreak of covid-19.
The manufacturer also said that its leadership team and board would be deferring salary payments for three months, starting in May.
JLR operates factories across the West Midlands and North West and ceased production at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham, Solihull and Halewood in Merseyside last month.
The firm also confirmed that “a controlled stop would continue for a few more weeks”.
A statement from the company said: “At Jaguar Land Rover, the health of our employees is our primary concern. We continue to monitor the covid-19 situation and follow the guidance of all relevant authorities.
“Our manufacturing sites are on a controlled stop and continue to adhere to government advice.
“Against the backdrop of rapidly changing circumstances, we have decided to extend the controlled stop at our plants for a few more weeks.
“We are working towards an orderly return to production as soon as conditions permit.
“We are operating in line with advice from the NHS and Public Health England to minimise the spread of the coronavirus while implementing plans to safeguard our business continuity.”
Some members of JLR staff have accused the firm of allegedly “making staff pay back time due to coronavirus in compulsory overtime” despite 80 per cent of monthly wages being covered by the Government.
An employee who wished to remain anonymous said: “We employees don’t think it is fair as somewhere down the line we will have to pay it back in tax anyway so why should we be made to do compulsory overtime as well?
“On our wage slips, it is already showing 130+ hours we owe them back.
“They have booked it as an agreement called ‘corridor hours’ which means compulsory overtime.”
But JLR said in response: “The use of corridor hours arrangement has allowed us to act quickly to manage and administrate our application of the job retention scheme.
“For those on furlough, we are topping up wages to protect 100 per cent base salary during April.
“We are in discussions with the trade unions and our employees are regularly updated by Jaguar Land Rover and the trade unions about the current situation.”