Hays Travel’s retail staff have been made to work only every other week, while some foreign exchange staff and recent starters have been reduced to zero hours.

The temporary measures have been put in place by the UK’s largest travel retailer as it battles the impact of the coronavirus on travel.

Shops will be open from 10am to 4:30pm with staff also taking a 50% pay cut to reflect their reduced hours. Hays Travel expects the mesures to be in place for four weeks.

The decision followed the agency’s initial offer of unpaid leave as it looked to cut “non-essential expenditure”, and subsequent move to a four-day week on Friday.

Hays Travel said that while many workers made offers to take unpaid leave, not enough offers were made to mitigate the impact coronavirus has had on the business.

This week, the company moved to reduce the hours of foreign exchange staff and members of its travel academy, all of whom who have worked for the company for less than two years, to zero for a period of four weeks.

Hays recruited 2,300 former Thomas Cook shop staff after taking on the leases to occupy all 553 of its shops following the travel giant’s collapse in September last year. It also recruited 200 additional staff for its head office in Sunderland.

It employs around 5,700 staff overall, including 2,500 shop staff, and currently operates 650 shops across the UK.

There have so far been no redundancies, but a spokeswoman said it was “no secret” that talks are ongoing with the staff placed on zero hours about the future of their jobs.

The spokeswoman said Hays Travel was “making this decision to make sure we can retain our skilled and experienced staff”.