Boss blames furlough scheme for hiring woes

Steve Brown says he is unable to hire staff as his business seeks to expand

Steve Brown says he is unable to hire staff as his business seeks to expand - Credit: STEVE BROWN

The boss of an Ipswich family firm says the furlough scheme is making it difficult for him to hire staff.

Steve Brown, owner of Farthing Road-based Ipswich Glass, has been struggling to hire workers as he looks to expand, despite having more than 100 applicants.

Mr Brown currently employs nearly 30 people, including several members of his family, but is looking to hire as many as 10 new staff to keep up with increased demand brought on by the pandemic.

The company produces double-glazing units and has seen a boom in sales through the pandemic

The company produces double-glazing units and has seen a boom in sales through the pandemic - Credit: STEVE BROWN

He said: "This is the busiest period we've ever had.

"We've got an opportunity for seven to 10 more staff for the value of work that we're doing.

"The last three years our turnover has been just shy of £3million. And this year it should be £3.5million — and that includes last year when there were three weeks of no production at the early part of the pandemic." 

Mr Brown says he is largely looking to hire factory workers to make double-glazing units. Staff will work four 12 hour days on a three week shift pattern and are paid minimum wage with increases based on skill set.

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He said he understood that people might say he is not paying enough, but argued: "Minimum wage these days is nearly £9 an hour so really doing a minimum of 46 hours is somewhere around about £440 gross.

"A lot of jobs out there might be paying £11 or £12 per hour, but only offer 35 hours a week — so it's all relative."

The boss of Ipswich Glass says the furlough scheme is making it difficult for him to hire factory workers

The boss of Ipswich Glass says the furlough scheme is making it difficult for him to hire factory workers - Credit: STEVE BROWN

Instead, Mr Brown said the furlough scheme is one of the reasons he has struggled to hire people.

He said: "Because they haven't been able to go anywhere or do anything the 20% they might have lost off their wages, which was probably the 20% they would have spent on horse riding with the kids, dancing or cubs and scouts and holidays.

"And they haven't done any of that, so they haven't actually found themselves really short of money.

"We try to get people to come in for a day's trial so they can see what it's going to be like. 

"Most of the time nobody turns up. And some of them they just disappear. We think there might be a hole at Morrison's because they'd normally say 'can I just pop to Morrison's at lunch' and then never come back.

"So then we started doing an interview followed by an hour in the factory and again, people just don't turn up."

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