Amazon delays return of staff to its London HQ by two months

Amazon leads big business in delaying return of staff to its London HQ by another two months to March next year after government’s Covid response

  • Amazon bosses tell staff they can continue working from home into March 2021
  • Firms KPMG and Standard Chartered also unlikely to see complete return
  • Comes amid government’s decision to place in Tier Two lockdown restrictions

Retail giant Amazon have told staff to continue working from home into 2021, leading a wave employers who are delaying a return to the office amid soaring coronavirus cases.

The company previously announced plans to allow workers worldwide to stay at home if they could do their job ‘effectively’ until early January.

But after the government announced plans to put London into Tier Two lockdown restrictions to clamp down on virus cases, they pushed back the expected return date for UK employees to March.

Amazon’s giant British headquarters in London’s Principal Place, which can hold up to 5,000 staff members, have been largely empty since the first lockdown in March this year.

Retail giant Amazon have told staff to continue working from home into 2021, while its British headquarters in London’s Principal Place have been largely empty since March this year

From Saturday, Londoners will be banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in bars and other venues.

Offices and public transport can remain open, but the government’s general advice to work from home where possible stands.

Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash will also be placed into the Tier Two category 

With 18,980 new cases reported yesterday, it appears firm are concerned about setting definitive dates for a return to the office.

More than half of accounting firm KPMG’s 17,000-strong workforce who would usually work at a clients’ office or a company workplace had joined other staff who were already working from home.

The company is believed to have reopened their offices with Covid-19 secure measures, but only staff who ‘need’ to come in are doing so.

Tim Jones, Chief Operating Officer at KPMG: ‘As an organisation we have always been prepared to work remotely at a large scale and, whilst the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated it, we see a hybrid model as the future for our business and our clients.

‘Throughout this crisis, we have stringently followed the most up-to-date scientific and government advice and will continue to do so. 

The government has announced plans to put London into Tier Two lockdown restrictions to clamp down on virus cases (pictured, deserted Oxford Street)

‘We expect a large proportion of colleagues to continue to work from home for the remainder of the year but our offices will remain open for those who have a business or wellbeing need to come in.’

KPMG have also devised their own app for staff to complete a risk assessment on before they return.

Banking firm Standard Chartered’s London-based headquarters meanwhile is believed to remain mostly empty, with less than one in six staff returning so far.

A source said the company had recently told workers to only come in to their Moorgate headquarters if ‘you are unable to work from home’, meaning occupancy could be ‘as low as 10 per cent’.

It is not clear whether the new government restrictions would change the company’s position, but the source added Standard would comply with any instructions.

It comes as figures revealed the UK’s unemployment rate spiked higher in August, a clear sign that the jobless rate is heading towards levels not seen in 30 years.

The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that unemployment rose by 138,000 in the three months to August from the previous three-month period.

The unemployment rate jumped to 4.5 per cent, its highest rate since early 2017, from 4.1 per cent in the previous quarter.

From Saturday, Londoners will be banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in bars and other venues (above, Catford Mews shopping centre on September 23)

The British economy endured one of the deepest recessions in the spring and while it has rebounded in the past few months, it is still about 10 per cent smaller than it was at the end of 2019.

The main reason why unemployment has not spiked sharply higher has been the government´s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has paid most of the salaries of workers who have not been fired.

Some 1.2 million employers have taken advantage of the program to furlough 9.6 million people at a cost to the government of nearly £40 billion ($52 billion).

At one stage, around 30 per cent of the U.K.’s working population was on furlough. Although they weren’t working over the past few months, they were not counted as unemployed.

Since the program ends at the end of October, many of those still on furlough are expected to be made redundant and unemployment to rise further.

How more than 210,000 job losses have been revealed by major UK firms since lockdown began 

Some 210,781 job losses have been announced by major British employers since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March as follows:

  • October 7 – Greene King – 800 
  • October 6 – Virgin Money – 400 
  • October 6 – Vp – 150 
  • October 5 – Cineworld – 5,500 (many cuts likely to be temporary) 
  • September 30 – TSB – 900 
  • September 30 – Shell – 9,000 worldwide 
  • September 29 – Ferguson – 1,200
  • September 22 – Wetherspoon – 400 to 450
  • September 22 – Whitbread – 6,000
  • September 18 – Investec – 210
  • September 15 – Waitrose – 124
  • September 14 – London City Airport – 239
  • September 9 – Lloyds Bank – 865
  • September 9 – Pizza Hut – 450
  • September 4 – Virgin Atlantic – 1,150
  • September 3 – Costa – 1,650
  • August 27 – Pret a Manger – 2,800 (includes 1,000 announced on July 6)
  • August 26 – Gatwick Airport – 600
  • August 25 – Co-operative Bank – 350
  • August 20 – Alexander Dennis – 650
  • August 18 – Bombardier – 95
  • August 18 – Marks & Spencer – 7,000
  • August 14 – Yo! Sushi – 250
  • August 14 – River Island – 350
  • August 12 – NatWest – 550
  • August 11 – InterContinental Hotels – 650 worldwide
  • August 11 – Debenhams – 2,500
  • August 7 – Evening Standard – 115
  • August 6 – Travelex – 1,300
  • August 6 – Wetherspoons – 110 to 130
  • August 5 – M&Co – 380
  • August 5 – Arsenal FC – 55
  • August 5 – WH Smith – 1,500
  • August 4 – Dixons Carphone – 800
  • August 4 – Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk
  • August 3 – Hays Travel – up to 878
  • August 3 – DW Sports – 1,700 at risk
  • July 31 – Byron – 651
  • July 30 – Pendragon – 1,800
  • July 29 – Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles
  • July 28 – Selfridges – 450
  • July 27 – Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk
  • July 23 – Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas
  • July 22 – Mears – fewer than 200
  • July 20 – Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk
  • July 17 – Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200
  • July 16 – Genting – 1,642 at risk
  • July 16 – Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas
  • July 15 – Banks Mining – 250 at risk
  • July 15 – Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk
  • July 14 – Vertu – 345 July 14 – DFS – up to 200 at risk
  • July 9 – General Electric – 369
  • July 9 – Eurostar – unknown number
  • July 9 – Boots – 4,000
  • July 9 – John Lewis – 1,300 at risk
  • July 9 – Burger King – 1,600 at risk
  • July 7 – Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550
  • July 6 – Pret a Manger – 1,000 at risk
  • July 2 – Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909
  • July 1 – SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk
  • July 1 – Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500
  • July 1 – Harrods – 700
  • July 1 – Virgin Money – 300
  • June 30 – Airbus – 1,700
  • June 30 – TM Lewin – 600
  • June 30 – Smiths Group – ‘some job losses’
  • June 25 – Royal Mail – 2,000
  • June 24 – Jet2 – 102
  • June 24 – Swissport – 4,556
  • June 24 – Crest Nicholson – 130
  • June 23 – Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office
  • June 19 – Aer Lingus – 500
  • June 17 – HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide
  • June 15 – Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100
  • June 15 – Travis Perkins – 2,500
  • June 12 – Le Pain Quotidien – 200
  • June 11 – Heathrow – at least 500
  • June 11 – Bombardier – 600
  • June 11 – Johnson Matthey – 2,500
  • June 11 – Centrica – 5,000
  • June 10 – Quiz – 93
  • June 10 – The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000
  • June 10 – Monsoon Accessorise – 545
  • June 10 – Everest Windows – 188
  • June 8 – BP – 10,000 worldwide
  • June 8 – Mulberry – 375
  • June 5 – Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk
  • June 5 – Bentley – 1,000
  • June 4 – Aston Martin – 500
  • June 4 – Lookers – 1,500
  • May 29 – Belfast International Airport – 45
  • May 28 – Debenhams (in second announcement) – ‘hundreds’ of jobs
  • May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide
  • May 26 – McLaren – 1,200
  • May 22 – Carluccio’s – 1,000
  • May 21 – Clarks – 900
  • May 20 – Rolls-Royce – 9,000
  • May 20 – Bovis Homes – unknown number
  • May 19 – Ovo Energy – 2,600
  • May 19 – Antler – 164
  • May 15 – JCB – 950 at risk
  • May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide
  • May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450
  • May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide
  • May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150
  • May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide
  • April 30 – Oasis Warehouse – 1,800
  • April 29 – WPP – unknown number
  • April 28 – British Airways – 12,000
  • April 23 – Safran Seats – 400
  • April 23 – Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide
  • April 21 – Cath Kidston – 900
  • April 17 – Debenhams – 422
  • March 31 – Laura Ashley – 268
  • March 30 – BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk
  • March 27 – Chiquito – 1,500 at risk

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