Hays Travel is offering staff facing redundancy the chance to work on short-term government contracts which continue to subsidise staff salaries.

The UK’s largest independent agency confirmed in August it had been subcontracted to work for two different government providers to keep staff employed during the Covid-19 crisis.

After pitching for work on the coronavirus response in March, it is understood Hays staff have worked on a ‘shielding’ helpline, NHS Track and Trace, and the Foreign Office’s repatriation programme at the beginning of the crisis.

Joint owner John Hays said work on the contracts was being offered as an option to staff within Hays who are under consultation, namely foreign exchange staff and trainee consultants.

He said: “We have said to everyone, ‘if we cannot continue employing you as a foreign exchange consultant, for example, we can offer work [on the government contracts]’. We have offered every last one this opportunity.”

He admitted the work, all linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, was on zero-hour contracts on a “rolling basis”.

Joint owner Irene Hays said the work continued to be vital to subsidising salaries in the current depressed market.

“We are still doing work and this is still helping our people to stay in work and subsidising their salaries. This is still a really important focus,” she said.

“We said at the outset we would do everything in our power to protect the jobs of our people. While we have not been 100% successful doing that, this is the sole purpose of doing this work, not that it’s paying for all the salaries by any stretch.

“We are still not receiving enough travel work to pay salaries but thanks to this work we have a good, strong business plan for the next two years. It’s not looking pretty but it’s looking strong.”

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