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Salmon processor steps up financial support for self-isolating workers

Aquascot partners at work. Those who self-isolate will receive financial support from the employee-owned company. Photo: Aquascot.
Aquascot partners at work. Those who self-isolate will receive financial support from the employee-owned company. Photo: Aquascot.

Employee-owned salmon and trout processing business Aquascot has launched a financial support package for workers who choose to self-isolate because of coronavirus.

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Partners – as all the company’s workforce are known – are also devising a flexible working scheme so that those with children will still be able to do their job when schools and nurseries close indefinitely after today.

Aquascot, based at Alness in Ross-shire, supplies supermarket chain Waitrose and online store Ocado and employs 190 people.

Ed Ley-Wilson: Statutory sick pay is too low for people to pay bills.
Ed Ley-Wilson: Statutory sick pay is too low for people to pay bills.

‘A responsible company’

Head of aquaculture Ed Ley-Wilson said that the number of partners self-isolating was low, but those who have done so wouldn’t be left to rely on the £94.25 per week statutory sick pay offered by the UK government.

“We recognise that the level of statutory sick pay set by Government is too low for most people to pay bills etc.,” added Ley-Wilson, who said that self-isolating partners and those in high-risk groups would receive a range of financial support, depending on their circumstances, to tide them over the self isolation period.

He said the firm was keen to do the right thing and was managing the process of spending on partner welfare while, at the same time, ensuring the wider company finances were robust. He added: “We think this is the right thing to do as a responsible employee-owned company.”

Childcare

Aquascot’s approach to childcare is also likely to cost it money as it works through how best to provide partners with the flexibility they need to manage their changing family circumstances as the virus restrictions take hold.

Such cooperation is an extension of what Ley-Wilson has already witnessed during a period when demand has been high, partly because of panic buying caused by fears of coronavirus isolation and also because of promotions prior to the epidemic taking hold.

“The response of our partners to the challenge of increased orders, stringent hygiene measures and self-management of travel, etc., has been fantastic,” he said.

Sharing roles

“Partners have worked extra hours and shared roles as required and the attitude has been one of coming together for a common cause i.e. to keep the business alive and kicking. 

“Becoming an employee-owned business has, I believe, been a key part of that response. One of our four key values is to strive to be ‘naturally kind’ - to people, to the environment, etc. When faced with a challenge such as Covid-19, our instinct must be first and foremost to look after our partners.” 

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