TfL to furlough 7,000 staff as passenger numbers fall due to COVID-19
As Londoners continue to stay home in order to save lives, a drastic fall in passengers has lead Transport for London to furlough staff in order to stay financially stable.
Transport for London (TfL) has announced that it is set to place 7,000 members of staff whose work has been reduced or paused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on furlough from 27 April 2020. This will allow TfL to access funding from the UK government’s Job Retention Scheme, saving the organisation an estimated £15.8 million every four weeks.
By furloughing staff, TfL can partly reduce the huge financial impact of coronavirus whilst constructive discussions continue with the UK government on the wider revenue support that TfL will need in order to continue the effective operation of London’s transport network.
Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “The transport network is crucial in the fight to tackle coronavirus, and it will play a similarly vital role in supporting the country’s economy as it recovers from the pandemic. We have significantly cut our costs over recent years but, nevertheless, the success of encouraging the vast majority of people to stay at home has seen our main revenue, fares, reduce by 90 per cent. We are now taking steps to use the government’s Job Retention Scheme to further reduce our costs where work has been paused because of the virus, while at the same time supporting our staff financially. Our work with the government about the support that we need is ongoing and constructive. We hope for an urgent agreement so that we can continue to provide the city with the vital transport it needs now and going forward.”
Since London entered lockdown on 23 March 2020, TfL has – as part of the national strategy to combat the virus – been urging Londoners to limit unnecessary travel and only make essential journeys. The vast majority of travellers have listened to TfL and the Mayor of London’s advice to stay at home, to not travel and, subsequently, save lives. As a result, the success of this campaign has meant that TfL’s main source of income has practically disappeared.
The UK government’s Job Retention Scheme means that TfL is able to access funding for 80 per cent of the salary of furloughed staff, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. TfL has carefully assessed which roles within the organisation are suitable for the scheme, ensuring that all staff required for COVID-19 recovery planning and delivery are retained. A total of 7,000 staff will be placed on furlough, for an initial period of three weeks. This represents roughly 25 per cent of the total workforce currently employed. TfL will pay the remaining 20 per cent of salaries of all furloughed employees and continue to pay pension contributions in order to ensure that people are sufficiently supported.