At the end of a week which has seen many Australian businesses shutting up shop and thousands of people lose their jobs, Woolworths has announced plans to hire 20,000 workers to manage the recent boom in grocery.
Over the next month, the retailer is hiring across supermarkets, supply chain and its drinks businesses to meet increased demand, while additional e-commerce roles will help scale up its online operations as many shoppers seek to stay home.
Woolworths has already placed around 3000 ALH Group employees, who were stood down as a result of mandatory hotel closures, in new roles across BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Supermarkets.
Now, the supermarket giant is eager to support those in customer-facing roles who have recently lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those from Qantas, Village Entertainment, Michael Hill Jewellers, Cotton On, Accor and Super Retail Group.
Following on from an offer to hire some of the 20,000 staff that were let go from Qantas last week, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said on Friday that the Group is prepared to provide up to 5000 short-term roles to Qantas employees taking leave without pay, with more than 1500 of those roles in its distribution centres.
“These are uncertain times for many industries and we have an important role to play keeping Australians employed through this crisis,” Banducci said.
“We’re working with a number of customer-focused businesses impacted by recent government measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“These new roles will not only help us better serve the increase in demand we’re seeing in stores right now, but also allow us to scale up home delivery operations in the months ahead.”
Banducci said he is confident the strong service skills and work ethic of candidates from these businesses will be “highly transferable” to Woolworths.
“We’re hopeful these businesses will bounce back strongly once this crisis passes, and we want to do our bit to help them – and their people – get through the short-term challenge.”
Woolworths said the vast majority of new roles will be casual in order to provide maximum flexibility, while those on leave without pay from other employers will be offered short-term contracts.
Earlier this month, Woolworths introduced special leave support measures for team members, including casuals, who were impacted by coronavirus.
Rental relief for Woolworths Group retail tenants
On Friday, Woolworths also announced a multi-million dollar support package for retail tenants in its 28 shopping centres and other retail assets impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Support will take the form of rental relief and employment opportunities following on from government restrictions this week on non-essential services such as small local boutiques, cafes, restaurants, gyms, cinemas and indoor entertainment retailers.
Where possible, flexible contract and casual roles will be offered as a priority to employees of specialty tenants.
“Our retail tenants are presently one of the most impacted parts of the economy and we want to do our bit to help them under extremely difficult circumstances,” Ralph Kemmler, Woolworths Director of Property said.
“This multi-million dollar support package will provide rent relief for the majority of retail tenants and small businesses in our shopping centres and other retail assets.”
Kemmler said the Group is taking action “to play a constructive role in seeing these businesses bounce back”.
The retail support package begins this week and will continue until June 30, at which point it will be reassessed.