COVID-19 HR pulse: w/c 6th April

Our weekly news pulse for Human Resources leaders rounds up the latest news and insights impacting people professionals amid the developing COVID-19 pandemic. Quick click to jump to the relevant updates:

Government updates

The United States passed the CARES act which affords direct aid to workers, loans to business and tax provisions designed to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. Meanwhile the Federal Reserve predicts the US unemployment rate could peak at 32%. <a=””>Read more

Canada said businesses and non-profit organisations seeing a drop in revenue of at least 30% due to COVID-19 will qualify for the government’s 75% wage subsidy programme – guaranteeing payments of up to $847 a week for workers. Prime minister, Justin Trudeau, warned of “serious consequences” for those who abuse the system. <a=“”>Read more

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has ordered the complete lockdown of its 1.3 billion inhabitants for 21 days. In doing so he has conceded that workers - 80% of which are informal (lacking contracts and unprotected by labour laws), will face considerable hardship. In response the government has set up 500 relief camps for migrant workers to take shelter. <a=“ “>Read more


The Council of Global Unions has called on governments from across the globe to act together to protect employees in the next few months. The plea comes as the council says it expects the fallout from coronavirus to be worse than the economic crash of 2008. <a=“”>Read more

Health workers in the UK are reportedly being gagged from talking about chronic shortages of protective equipment, according to the Doctor’s Association UK. It claims doctors are being threatened with disciplinary action should they decide to voice any unease in public or on social media. <a=“ “>Read more

Corporate HR announcements

The three largest American banks, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup, announced a guarantee against job losses during the coronavirus crisis. In addition, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank and HSBC announced they would all defer previously announced layoffs until next year. <a=“”>Read more

Walmart is raising the wages of its e-fulfilment and warehouse staff to ensure it retains these key people, as it deals with increased demand. The rise is guaranteed till at least 25th May, and it mirrors Amazon workers also getting a pay boost of $2 per hour throughout April. <a=“”>Read more

Executives at major corporations such Ford, Marriott, Disney and GE have all begun to forfeit their pay in the hope such measures will avoid furloughs and layoffs. <a=“”>Read more

Diageo, the alcoholic beverages company which owns brands including Guinness and Hennessey, has pledged £1,000,000 to support the wages of bartenders affected by closure orders. <a=“”>Read more

The UK’s supermarkets are struggling to hire enough people to meet rising demand for online deliveries. Aldi, Asda and Morrisons have announced the need to hire 20,000 more staff, while Tesco alone also says it needs to hire 20,000 staff. Amazon has also announced large hiring intentions in the both the UK and US. <a=“”>Read more

Macy’s is to furlough the majority of its 125,000 staff after all of its 775 stores have been forced to close because of coronavirus. Affected workers will still receive company-funded health care, and in a significant show of togetherness, the store’s CEO, Jeff Gennette and the rest of board of directors will stop receiving a salary. <a=“”>Read more

Constellation Brands - which owns the unfortunately named Corona beer brand, has established a COVID-19 Relief Fund, where it has promised to match employee contributions 2:1 to any non-profit organisations supporting communities hit by the crisis. It is also asking staff to support jobs in local restaurants by ordering home-delivery take-outs. <a=“”>Read more