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Coronavirus: Supermarkets create thousands of jobs as UK stockpiles

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and other supermarkets including the Co-op, Aldi and Lidl have hired more staff to deal with soaring demand during the coronavirus outbreak. (PA)

UK supermarkets are hiring thousands of extra staff to cope with unprecedented demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Leading supermarkets are urgently seeking permanent and temporary staff as they struggle to cope with shoppers clearing shelves.

The scale of ‘panic buying’ has forced companies and the UK government to urge the public not to stockpile more than they need.

READ MORE: Supermarkets announce three-item limit on groceries

Supermarket leaders are holding daily talks with government officials, giving vulnerable and elderly shoppers priority and ramping up recruitment.

Many are seeking to hire some of the estimated 500,000 staff who have already lost their jobs in the hospitality sector. Job losses are likely to continue to mount after the UK government imposed a shutdown on venues on Friday.

However, new worker protection measures have been put in place that could help keep a number of people on the payroll, even if their work is on pause during the pandemic.

But for those looking for employment right now, the supermarkets present opportunities for thousands of people.

Tesco: 20,000 workers

Tesco (TSCO.L) announced that it will recruit 20,000 temporary workers for at least the next 12 weeks. It also currently lists more than 7,000 vacancies on its website.

Many of the newest roles including store jobs are marked as “immediate start.”

“With the COVID-19 situation evolving every day, and unprecedented high demand, we urgently need to recruit extra temporary in-store colleagues,” one advert says.

Aldi: 9,000 jobs

Aldi is advertising for 4,000 permanent roles and 5,000 temporary roles at stores and distribution centres.

It says staff will start immediately, with a minimum of £9.30 an hour, and encouraged anyone affected by the outbreak’s economic toll to apply.

Asda: 5,000 jobs

Walmart-owned Asda (WMT) plans to hire 5,000 temporary workers “who have lose their jobs due to COVID-19.”

It is working directly with 20 national firms who are slashing roles to take on their staff.

It said in a post on its Facebook page: “We’ve asked our colleagues to spread the word so if family and friends need work, they can contact their local Asda and we will try to help.”

It has also asked struggling local food firms to provide on-site catering for its staff.

Co-op: 5,000 jobs

The Co-op Food is creating 5,000 roles in stores, aiming its jobs at former hospitality workers.

It says it has temporary and permanent roles available, and will simplify its recruitment process to get staff working as soon as possible.

Lidl: 2,500 jobs

Lidl is recruiting 2,500 new staff it wants to start immediately on four-week temporary contracts. Lidl is also particularly keen to hear from workers who have lost their jobs

Morrisons: 3,500 jobs

Morrisons will hire 1,000 distribution centre workers and around 2,500 pickers and drivers to expand home deliveries.

It will also launch a call centre to help take orders over the phone from customers who do not shop online.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) is urging potential applicants to “support us in feeding the nation.”

It is recruiting an unspecified number of staff on fixed-term contracts in its stores, urging potential applicants to ask about opportunities at local branches.

The company is urging firms considering laying off workers to get in touch about “redeploying” workers.