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Human Capital
– Office®

Over the past year there has been a continued focus on aligning human resources processes within the Truworths International Group, and Office departments have been working in collaboration with their Truworths counterparts on business-critical operations.

A key human resources focus has been on ensuring that the right structure and roles are in place as Office emerges from the pandemic and its employees adapt to the day-to-day challenges that it continues to bring.

Owing to the impact of COVID-19, management was forced to implement drastic measures to curtail expenditure to ensure the long-term viability of Office. A redundancy process was undertaken which started in June 2020 and resulted in a saving of 15% of head office payroll.


The UK endured a second four-week national lockdown during November 2020, a return to a stricter tiered local lockdown system from December 2020 and then a third national lockdown from January 2021 until April 2021. During this time most store employees were furloughed and Office applied for funding from the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Selected stores were able to continue operating as ‘click & collect’ points and direct dispatch for online orders, although customers were not able to enter the stores. Ireland also encountered further lockdowns and continued to use the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to support staff. Office’s warehouse employees continued working throughout all the lockdowns and head office followed the government’s guidance to work from home where possible.

UK stores reopened and have remained open since April 2021 following the last of the UK national lockdowns. Prior to reopening, COVID-19-specific risk assessments were carried out in all stores ensuring that conditions were COVID safe by government standards prior to inviting back employees and customers. At the time all staff and customers were advised of the social distancing rules and required to wear face masks. This restriction has now been lifted; however, it is still encouraged in order to preserve the safety of employees and customers. Well-being discussions are conducted with all staff, acknowledging the impact that COVID-19 has had on the population in a bid to try and alleviate concerns and address any issues that may have arisen from the pandemic. While lockdown restrictions have been lifted, the requirement for employees to legally self-isolate for 10 days, if contacted by the National Health Service track and trace programme, continues to put a strain on store operations. This is expected to improve as vaccinated employees will not be required to self-isolate if they are not experiencing COVID‑19 symptoms.

The planned end to the freedom of movement for European Economic Area (EEA) citizens came into effect in January 2021 following the implementation of Brexit. As Office had a freeze on recruitment at this time due to the national lockdown, this did not negatively impact the business.

EEA citizens who were employed by Office at 31 December 2020 were given until 30 June 2021 to apply to the European Union settlement scheme to remain in Britain.

Most training expenditure was placed on hold due to the impact of COVID-19. However, all compulsory training was undertaken via Office’s online e-learning platform, including training on the General Data Protection Regulation, and health and safety training. A total of 1 228 employees used this training platform during the financial period.

The Apprenticeship Levy is a UK tax on employers which is required to be used to fund apprenticeship training. The apprenticeship programme will be incorporated into Office’s learning and development strategy for the 2022 financial year to support the progression and succession of employees as the course offering has been expanded to include associate project manager, data professional and strategic leadership training.

The business trained several employees as mental-health first aiders to support employee well-being.

Office was not required to prepare the gender pay gap report for 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next report will be published in October 2021. This report is required to be produced annually in terms of the Equality Act 2010 for businesses employing more than 250 employees in Great Britain.