Penneys Member Update

To: All Mandate Members employed in Penneys

Re: Company Announcement 27th October 2020

17 November 2020


Dear Member,

Following my correspondence to the company dated 28th October in the above regard please see below their response to same.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact your local official.

Yours fraternally
For Mandate Trade Union

Jonathan Hogan
National Co-ordinator


12th November 2020

Jonathan Hogan
National Co-ordinator
O’Lehane House
9 Cavendish Row
Dublin 1

Dear Mr Hogan,

I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 28th October 2020 regarding colleague pay
during the current store closure.

I was very disappointed to receive your letter and surprised with the content therein as I feel the company has been more than reasonable in its approach and the very large majority of our colleagues were appreciative of the company’s position on pay.

I must re-iterate that all of our stores in Ireland are closed in what is normally one of our busiest trade months of the year. At present over 50% of Primark Stores are closed across our estate. This is devastating for our business.

Despite these closures we made the decision to keep all our colleagues in employment.
Retailers in a similar position to us have ‘laid off’ their colleagues which leaves them in an insecure and vulnerable position.

Prior to our most recent communication on 5th November we committed to paying 2 weeks of rostered hours (100%) followed by another 2 weeks at 80% of contracted hours. In the absence of any revenue in our Irish stores or a government subsidy to support us this was a significant investment on behalf of the company.

I am hugely disappointed that you and some of your members felt that the company was not supporting them. Whilst we understand that the stores’ closure has had a detrimental effect on earnings, we have been cognisant of continuing to pay our colleagues, keeping them in secure employment as well as ensuring the company is positioned to survive these challenging times.

We believe that some colleagues’ expectations in relation to pay have been unrealistically high and this may be due to the fact that during the last store closure the previous government subsidy scheme was available and was based on higher than normal average earnings due to backpay paid to colleagues in February 2020. Colleagues were also not subjected to tax on the subsidy. That subsidy scheme, as you’re aware, is no longer available.

Notwithstanding the above, management made the decision on 5th November to uplift the payment of 80% of contracted hours to paying 100% of contracted hours. We made this decision as we are approaching the Christmas period and our priority is to support our colleagues and provide peace of mind. We will also explore the possibility of applying for the government subsidy.

This decision to pay 100% of contracted hours will end on 1st December 2020 and it is a once of gesture given the unique circumstances and time of the year. This will not be used as precedence going forward.

In addition to this commitment, eligible colleagues will be paid their Bonus on 26th November 2020. This bonus, as you are aware, consists of 2 additional week’s pay to colleagues.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you of some of the other measures that the company has taken to support our colleagues during Covid 19.

• During the first closure the Company made the decision to allow colleagues to
continue to accrue holidays during the time they were not working.

• During this closure, colleagues will continue to accrue annual leave.

• Since we re-opened in June, stores have been accommodating and supportive with
regards to facilitating colleagues with changes to their working hours on a
temporary basis.

• The company also made a financial contribution to each store to hold “Thank you”
events for our colleagues.

There is an expectation that when we re-open that we will be very busy and we would expect that those who would like to work additional hours (during the times we require additional support) will be offered additional hours.

Separate to the above and as previously advised, we are not stepping away from the Banded Hours Agreement. We were not in a position to increase our base costs in a year where we were closed for 12 weeks and were facing continued uncertainty and more store closures. Our focus is and was on protecting the existing jobs and hours without adding to the cost base in our stores. The reference period for the calculation of the average hours is a 38 week reference period which included the store closure period. Additional hours worked when we re-opened in June and July are also not reflective of what the store would normally trade. Taking all these factors into consideration we believe that there would not be any colleagues eligible to move up a band given the unprecedented year we have had.

To conclude, we look forward to re-opening our stores and welcoming all of colleagues back to work in advance of what we hope will be a busy Christmas period.

Your sincerely,

Michelle Whelan
Head of People & Culture, Retail ROI

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