Royal Mail has scrapped Saturday letter deliveries until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company has implemented a “range of mitigations” to manage “severe absence levels” as the country continues the fight to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
As well as the temporary halt to Saturday letter deliveries from this weekend, Royal Mail has also changed the time guarantee on its Special Delivery service and will deploy non-operational managers to delivery.
Although the Saturday letter delivery has stopped, the company said it will continue to deliver “most” parcels, as well as Special Delivery, Tracked and all non-account services six days a week.
Saturday collections from businesses, Post Office branches and boxes will also continue as normal.
In a statement, the company said it remains open for business and will continue to “work hard to collect, process and deliver the UK’s mail in unprecedented times”.
The company added: “Absence rates are currently significantly higher than what we normally expect at this time of year.
“To manage these severe absence levels, we are implementing a range of mitigations.
“These include changing the time guarantee on Special Delivery, deploying non-operational managers in delivery and temporarily no longer delivering letters on a Saturday.
“Our delivery operation is a key part of keeping the country moving. So, we have chosen not to avail of the UK Government’s furlough scheme.
“In fact, we have put even more resources in to keep delivering.
“This includes additional overtime provision and a very significant investment in protective equipment for our colleagues.
“We thank you for your support and patience.”
In response, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) branded it a “calculated move” that is “not for the benefit” of staff members.
A CWU spokesperson said: “It is nothing but a cynical attempt by Royal Mail to bring in their long-term plans through the back door.
“If made permanent these changes could result in up to 20,000 job losses.
“Postal workers stood down from industrial action at the start of this crisis to keep the country connected.
“The public have shown incredible affection towards postal workers during this period and we know they will stand alongside us as we resist Royal Mail’s proposal.”