86% of workers are ready to work whilst furloughed, says coffee entrepreneur

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Your economy needs you. Coffee entrepreneur Emma Loisel is calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to summon the VE day spirit and allow furloughed workers to be able to return to work to support their struggling companies. The #RatherBeWorking campaign is being supported by Young Foodies, the largest community of challenger food & drink brands in the UK. An open letter has been sent to the Chancellor and furloughed workers being asked to get behind a social campaign.

Volcano Coffee Works, Emma Loisel’s specialty coffee roastery business, commissioned a survey of furloughed employees seeking their views on returning to work. Worryingly, three in four employees (72%) fear their employer will cease trading during the COVID-19 pandemic and even if the business survives, 59% worry they will be made redundant anyway.

However, an overwhelming 86% of such workers are ready and willing to do work whilst furloughed to improve the chances of their employer’s business surviving the lasting effects of the COVID-19 lock down. Moreover, given the Treasury is paying their salaries, 4 out of 5 of furloughed employees (82%) feel a sense of duty to contribute to the recovery of the British economy.

Emma Loisel, co-founder and chair at Volcano Coffee Works, commented: “The British economy is facing its darkest hours since WWII. As we celebrate VE Day and remember the enormous cost paid by many for our freedom, let us not forget how Britain came through that time. Everyone was called on to help in the war efforts, everyone dug deep, women came roaring into the workforce. This spirit is still alive and well in Britain. Just like in WWII, Britain today needs all hands on deck. Human capital is our greatest resource, we need to invest these resources in our SMEs, now. 

“This is not about SME’s wanting more, it’s about us wanting to work together to do more. Britain is already bearing this huge cost, but today it’s a sunk cost, instead it could become the greatest investment into our economy’s future. In starting this campaign and writing the open letter to the chancellor, we’re asking him to allow the workers he is already paying for to return to work and contribute to Britain’s future. Simply change the rule – allow Furloughed workers to work for their employers. Done right, this could cost no more and be the greatest investment ever made in British SMEs.”

The Chancellor has hinted this week at changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which pays furloughed employees. Currently, furloughed employees are paid up to 80% (up to £2,500) of their salary. If this amount is reduced to between 40%-60%, the survey found that over half (53%) of furloughed employees say they will not be able to meet their living costs.

Theadora Alexander, co-founder of Young Foodies, the UK’s largest community of food & drink SMEs, who co-signed the letter to the Chancellor, commented: “Bringing Britain’s talent back into the workforce is a no-brainer. It makes no sense for the government to restrict people from supporting their employers, effectively putting the breaks on the economy and making it harder for businesses to recover. On behalf of hundreds of our member brands and our own company who have had to furlough staff to survive, we fully support the #RatherBeWorking campaign and echo their call for a more collaborative new normal.”