Sodexo has announced its decision to establish a "global Sodexo Employee Relief Program" to help on-site staff impacted by the coronavirus and ahead of an anticipated reduction in its workforce.
The €30m (£26m) global programme will be administered "locally according to the specific needs of each country". The support provided will include the existence of government social protection schemes.
Sean Haley, region chair, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: "As we navigate the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic, our focus is on the health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues. Many continue to work supporting critical sites, delivering vital services that support the national effort, and they all have our utmost respect and support for their continued commitment.
"We want to support our employees through these extraordinary times and we are clear in our commitment to this. The new Sodexo Employee Relief Program will be used to do just that – support those who are most affected by the Covid-19 crisis. It is the right thing to do."
The programme is to be funded by senior executives of the company, including Sodexo chairwoman of the board of directors Sophie Bellon and group chief executive Denis Machuel, who are both waiving 50% of their fixed remuneration for six months. In addition, group executive committee members are to give up 10% of their fixed remuneration, and 200 senior executives across all segments and operations globally will also waive their annual variable remuneration.
During this "once in a lifetime crisis" Sodexo says it is on the front line with healthcare professionals and patients across the 67 countries in which it operates with its 95,000 employees working in hospitals, senior residences and in pressured areas of public administration, serving one million consumers every day.
In a response to the pandemic's economic impact, Sodexo said it "immediately responded" by adapting its operational management, including closing down sites, lowering service frequency and cancelling or postponing some services.
The company said its staff had been on the "front line to support healthcare professionals and patients" in the hospitals of Wuhan when the coronavirus outbreak began in December 2019.