A leading entrepreneur has said businesses across the north and north-east will be breathing a sigh of relief as new measures come into force to protect commission-based workers.
The UK Government previously announced a job retention scheme to save firms from cutting positions by covering 80% of furloughed workers’ wages during the coronavirus shutdown.
But initially this did not include staff who make the bulk of their income through commission – such as those in the car trade, whose showrooms were classed as “non-essential” businesses.
Jim Reid, who runs his own vehicle sales company in Inverurie, said a lack of action would have spelled disaster for many.
While he pays his staff a salary instead of commission, he said scores of people throughout northern Scotland had been left wondering how they would pay the bills.
“Across this industry, generally sales roles are paid a smaller salary and they make up the rest with commission,” Mr Reid said.
“It would have left thousands of people across the UK without any money to pay their bills or mortgage or to buy food.
“In our industry there are a lot of young people who use it as a stepping stone as there’s good money to be made – but you’ve got to work long and unsociable hours.
“And by selling big ticket items you’re generating a lot of tax revenue for the government too.
“It was a bit of a kick for sales people because they weren’t getting paid what they were due.”
Mr Reid said the steps now being taken would be hailed as a “saviour” by many in the sector, but urged them to keep looking forward to ensure they can “bounce back”.
He added: “We’ve furloughed all of our staff except for myself and my sales manager.
“We’ve got to keep the business ticking over as there are still inquiries coming in.
“We have to have leads to go back into the business with, if we do nothing then we’ll struggle.”
Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Tens of thousands of businesses across the UK have been trying to access the financial support which they urgently need.
“Government is listening and has moved quickly to announce additional measures but it is inevitable that issues will be uncovered as we all move at pace to respond to this crisis.
“The results of the British Chamber’s Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker show a big jump in the number of firms furloughing staff, with many now starting to apply for access to government loan and grant schemes to keep themselves afloat.
“Yet our research suggests that support is only starting to reach firms on the ground.”
Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn had previously written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, calling for an extension to the furlough scheme.
He said: “The reality is the UK Government’s scheme has a number of holes in it which has left too many people missing out on vital income.
“It is, however, encouraging to see they have listened and expanded the scheme to include those who work in the sales industry – a sector where a salary can be largely dependent on commission payments.”