While most removals companies in the UK closed their doors when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced and put their employees on the government’s furlough scheme, one company, Matthew James Global Relocations Limited, decided to take a different approach and with the blessing of their staff, carried out a limited number of moves during the lockdown. Here, Managing Director Matt De-Machen explains why.
“At the start of the lockdown we were faced with an extremely challenging decision and it would have been very easy just to close our doors and submit a substantial furlough claim. But after carrying out a robust risk assessment and a complete overhaul of our working practices to make sure we could safely comply with the medical and scientific recommendations, we took the decision to honour our existing commitments to our clients and carry on working, with only a few of our staff being furloughed.”
“Many of our customers had just returned from abroad and we had their furniture, we couldn’t let them sit and sleep on the floor during the entire lockdown! In my opinion that is essential work,” said Matt. “We also stepped in to help people move who had been let down by their removal companies at the last minute and were consequently facing significant financial penalties.”
“I’d seen first-hand what happened in Italy several weeks earlier and had stocked up with PPE, so we were ready for when the virus reached the UK.”
“We also ensured that our employees were not financially disadvantaged and our furlough payments have represented just 15% of our overall wage bill. This has resulted in more money being paid in taxes to support the country and fund our brilliant NHS. We now hold our heads high, and thanks to our loyal employees and their unwavering dedication, we did not let one client down and kept all employees safe and well, with no COVID-19 cases in our employee population of 65.”
Matt realises his decision to work during lockdown is controversial. “I know there are people out there who will say we made the wrong decision, and I understand and respect their point of view. I’m not criticising anyone, whether they stayed open or closed down, it’s their business and their decision. However, we helped a lot of people who were in a very difficult position; we did all we could to keep everyone safe, and we didn’t ask the government to pay our wages - I’m proud of that,” said Matt.
Photo: Matt De-Machen, Managing Director, Matthew James Global Relocations