Centrica's British Gas to furlough 3,800 employees

FILE PHOTO: A British Gas sign is seen outside its offices in Staines in southern England, July 31, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's largest energy supplier British Gas will furlough around 3,800 employees as the coronavirus pandemic forces the company to scale back operations, parent Centrica CNA.L said on Wednesday.

The government has ordered sweeping measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus, shutting down much of the economy and asking people to stay inside and avoid non-essential travel.

Centrica employs 20,000 people in Britain.

“We’ve had to scale back some of our operations to focus on emergency work only and looking after our vulnerable customers,” a spokeswoman said.

“In the short term we are placing some colleagues, who we can’t redeploy to emergency or vulnerable operations, into furlough to protect jobs and our business. They will receive 100% of their regular salary,” she said.

Under a government scheme, furloughed staff can receive 80% of their salary. Centrica said it will top up the remaining 20% for its furloughed staff.

When lockdown restrictions start to ease, the company said it will catch up on delivering non-essential services for customers.

Centrica joins other energy suppliers in Britain which have furloughed staff, including E.ON UK, Npower and OVO Energy.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Jason Neely and David Holmes