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Rightmove, JCB and Compass join list waiving job retention bonuses

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
A person looks for properties for sale on the Rightmove website. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday January 3, 2020. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Rightmove website. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA

A growing list of companies are pledging not to take up the government’s job retention bonus, waiving millions of pounds in free cash.

Catering giant Compass (CPG.L), property website Rightmove (RMV.L), and construction firm JCB are among those not planning to claim one-off £1,000 bonuses for bringing back staff from furlough. The companies join the likes of Primark (ABF.L), John Lewis, and William Hill (WMH.L) in passing over the scheme.

A spokesperson for FTSE 100 catering firm Compass confirmed to Yahoo Finance UK that it would not be taking up job retention bonuses, which entitle companies to £1,000 for every furloughed staffer brought back to work.

Compass furloughed around 21,000 people at the height of the pandemic, meaning the company could potentially benefit from retention bonuses worth more than £20m.

The company runs catering in offices, school canteens, and sports venues like Chelsea FC’s Stanford Bridge stadium and Twickenham rugby ground. The company has seen its business devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed schools, offices, and sports venues around the country.

A spokesperson declined to comment beyond confirming its stance on the job retention bonus.

A logo sign outside of a facility occupied by the Compass Group in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, on April 16, 2017. Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
A facility occupied by the Compass Group in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Photo: PA

Alongside Compass, the Sunday Times reported over the weekend that Rightmove and JCB were also planning to waive job retention bonuses.

Rightmove could claim up to £160,000 ($201,308) in bonuses, according to the report. The company furloughed a third of its staff during lockdown but said in an update last month it hoped to have all staff back at work by the end of July. A spokesperson confirmed it was not planning to utilise the bonus scheme.

A spokesperson for JCB confirmed the company was not planning to use the job retention bonus and said all the company’s 6,500 staff were back at work as of the end of June. The majority were furloughed during the pandemic and JCB could have claimed up to £5.5m, according to the Sunday Times.

Other companies said to be waiving their right to claim under the scheme include John Lewis and William Hill. Both have been contacted for comment.

Primark became the first major company to publicly pledge to pass over the job retention bonus earlier this month, waiving the opportunity to claim up to £30m.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the new job retention bonus scheme as part of his “mini-budget”. The scheme allows companies to claim a bonus of up to £1,000 for every furloughed member of staff brought back to work.

9.4m people have been furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme since it was launched in March, meaning companies could claim up to £9.4bn from the government under the job retention bonus programme.

The government has so far spent over £28bn support jobs through its job retention scheme. Several companies have publicly pledged to pay back furlough money as their business improves. The latest to do so is magazine publisher Future, which said on Monday it would pay back the cash “in recognition of the Group's continued strong performance”.