High Life Highland has placed 1,208 staff on furlough leave, with the likelihood of more to come.
The staff have been furloughed on full pay and have been told there will be no change to the terms and conditions of their contracts when they return to work.
Chief executive Steve Walsh said the board had taken the decision to apply for the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme to protect the long-term sustainability of the service.
A temporary collective agreement has been agreed with the GMB, Unison and Unite trades unions.
He said: “Furloughed staff are being actively encouraged to use some of the skills they have learned with HLH to help out in their community while on furlough leave.”
Around 520 HLH employees have registered with the council to lend a hand in various aspects of the local resilience effort.
For example, Active Schools coordinator Rory Cross is now volunteering in Dingwall helping to guide a team of volunteers to receive, process and deliver goods to vulnerable people in the community.
From the leisure team, Chloe Mackay and Ryan Edwards have been carrying out similar volunteering work on behalf of Caithness Foodbank.
Most youth development officers have been furloughed due to the current travel and contact restrictions, but a core team of eight workers are currently developing ways of offering an alternative service for the short term.
Mr Walsh added: “I am very proud of the response from the Highland Life Highland teams in terms of the amount of support and volunteering, even prior to the majority of staff being place on furlough leave.”