The parent company of a number of local businesses has announced plans for “an equal decrease in both working hours and salaries” for their staff by 50 percent, in “order to ensure the future sustainability” of their retail businesses, effective May 4.

In a statement released this weekend by Edmund Gibbons Limited, owners of Gibbons Company, Burrows Lightbourn and Bermuda Motors, “reaffirmed its commitment to continuing the operations of its businesses and retaining the employment of as many of its employees as possible despite the impacts of COVID-19 on its group of companies”.

“To date more than 99% of our employees have agreed this arrangement, with only one formally taking the layoff option.

It was also noted that “all family members holding executive positions will not draw a salary effective May 4th, and other overhead costs have been reduced where possible”.

“These needed measures will remain in place for the month of May and will be re-evaluated carefully as we progress through the various phases of the re-opening plan for Bermuda,” the company said.

“Since the pandemic began, causing severe interruptions in all industry sectors, these cocmpanies have seen a 90 percent plus decrease in sales.”

As a result, they “have had to take the difficult decision to mutually agree with our employees an equal decrease in both working hours and salaries”.

The statement continued: “Our top priority has and will continue to be the health and safety of our employees and keeping as many of them financially stable during this global crisis.

“Throughout the ‘Shelter in Place’ and ‘Lockdown’ period Edmund Gibbons Limited has paid all employees their full salaries despite being unable to operate as normal, while also needing to carry significant costs to maintain the viability of its various companies.

“We are pleased to have been able to work very closely with the Government of Bermuda to temporarily waive the mandatory payroll tax deductions from employee salaries and have also coordinated with them to automatically include the $500 dollar weekly unemployment benefit directly into employee salaries for those that are eligible.

“All employees were notified last month and we remain in continuous contact with our various teams to support them as and where possible. Edmund Gibbons Limited and its group of companies has deep roots in Bermuda, dating back to 1916, and it is our deepest desire to continue to provide continuing employment to our employees as well as the provision of products and services that the community has and will continue to expect from us.”