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Major employers sign thousands up to wage subsidy scheme's financial lifeline

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Workforce: Penneys staff will be paid 80pc of their salaries for the next month

Workforce: Penneys staff will be paid 80pc of their salaries for the next month

Workforce: Penneys staff will be paid 80pc of their salaries for the next month

The company behind the Brown Thomas and Arnotts department stores will pay staff their full wages and benefits while the shops are shut, topping up the Government's Wage Subsidy Scheme.

More than 36,000 companies have registered with Revenue in the past week to avail of the scheme, which aims to make it attractive for employers to keep staff on their books even when they are shut.

The heart of the scheme is a subsidy payment based on up to 70pc of normal net weekly pay for each employee, to a maximum of €410.

Brown Thomas Arnotts said it will access the scheme but will also ensure everyone in its employment will continue to receive 100pc of their salary.

Meanwhile, Penneys has said that it will pay its 5,000 retail employees in Ireland 80pc of their salaries for the next month, when the situation will be reviewed.

The retail giant had paid full wages for the initial two weeks of its nationwide shutdown.

Penneys said it will avail of the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme and top up wages by an additional 10pc.

Penneys is owned by stock market listed Associated British Foods, whose main shareholders, Canadian billionaire Galen Weston and his family, also own Brown Thomas Arnotts.

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus owner IAG said it is seeking support in Ireland for a job retention and wage support structure.

This looks likely to include tapping the Wage Subsidy Scheme for its around 4,000 employees, though such a deal may involve talks with the airline's powerful trade unions. Aer Lingus's sister airline in the UK, British Airways, has struck a deal to keep more than 30,000 cabin crew and ground crew, engineers and office staff on 80pc of pay while its operations are suspended, with no cap on the earnings.

British Airways pilots had already agreed a 50pc pay cut.

The UK job retention scheme covers 80pc of salary capped at a maximum of £2,500 (€2,858) a month or £625 a week.

Irish Independent