A top boss at a local construction firm has given every employee £750 to help combat the rising fuel costs – and hopes his kindness will shame other companies into giving their staff the same respect. Liam Lee, the managing director of Joseph Parr (Alco) which has offices in Oldham and Bradford, gave all of his 52 employees an extra boost in their pay check to help with rising costs of energy and fuel bills.
The decision was made across all branches of Joseph Parr, which is an independent building merchant group with local branches run by local people like Liam. “It’s been a few months now where we’ve been thinking about the hiking fuel and energy bills,” said Mr Lee. “Not just personally but in the business we’ve seen expenses rising and if we’re feeling it with a profit margin then the rest of the staff will be feeling it too.
READ MORE: Nine people charged following police operation in Oldham
“We knew we needed to do something and hand a little bit back to the staff so we discussed different figures and how to do this and came up with £750, a substantial amount of money in one go to help in various different situations people run It’s not just that £750 and done though, it’s an on-going thing where we’ll keep looking at this and maybe look at giving another amount in the Autumn if things haven’t changed.”
All staff were given the one-off payment, which might be offered again if the current cost of living crisis doesn’t ease off before winter, at a cost of almost £40,000 to the business. The firm has paid the extras out of their own profit margins, to give back to the staff who’ve kept the business running throughout Covid.
Mr Lee added: “We don’t want our staff, the people who kept us profitable all through Covid, worrying about ‘heat or eat’. They get paid well and I like to think it’s well enough that they don’t have to worry about that but there are other companies out there that can’t say the same.
“We’re only a small independent firm but we’ve made profit through the years and it’s more of a blanket to say we need to help people, we’re based in quite a deprived area in Oldham and we have to look after our I’d be mortified if anybody who worked here was in the situation where they had to choose between heating and eating but you find that people who are in that position are very proud and wouldn’t often talk about it.
“There are places out there who make a lot more money than we do who wouldn’t find it a financial burden to do the same. It’s a lot of money but in the grand scheme of things it won’t be that significant. I do feel very passionately that we should be looking after our staff, we’d have nothing without them, we just wouldn’t be able to do the job we do without each and every one of them, from the sales manager to the cleaner everybody means just the same to us and they all deserve something back.”
Although the ‘heat or eat’ choices faced by people struggling with the rising cost of living is something that helped spur Mr Lee to take action to protect his workers from the same heartbreaking choice, it’s one he hopes isn’t hitting anyone at the firm . One thing he has noticed staff feeling the brunt of though is the rising fuel prices, with many trying to find ways to keep their commute costs low.
“We don’t seem to hear as much on the household bills but we do hear about the fuel for the car. A lot of talk about how it used to be £60 to fill up and now it’s £90 or £100, and how you never dreamt that filling up your vehicle would cost you over £100. Some people are having to put that in on a monthly basis. We hear a lot of people talking about ‘how can we save on fuel, can we car share or can you pick me up’.
“We know that these pressures are there and people can’t afford to spend another £600-700 a year on energy, the money’s just not there or if it is there other things have to suffer. Maybe it’s a holiday, or a tablet for the kids to do their learning on. I couldn’t look these people in the eye knowing we’re generating a profit and not giving it back to them.”
Mr Lee hopes the generosity of Joseph Parr will encourage other firms to take the same action, passing their profits back to the people making the businesses successful to ensure they can cope with the rapidly rising cost of living.