The ‘new normal’ of working in the fashion industry

Remember the 9-5 job? A month ago that’s what we were all doing, but now it feels like a distant memory. With not many of us knowing what the word ‘furlough’ meant until recently, it’s a situation around 50% of the workforce are now facing.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, to be furloughed is a new government employment retention scheme for companies who are under financial pressure due to the current climate. If an employee is put on furlough, they are temporarily not to work and will be instead be given 80% of their salary (up to £2,500 a month). This is a great scheme, saving hundreds of thousands of jobs – yet for some, a 20% salary cut can still make things rather tight, especially in an industry where pay isn’t as competitive as other industries. It’s not just being used for smaller brands, high-profile companies such as Topshop have also benefitted from this scheme; although this has caused controversy due to Sir Philip Greens large fortune. The debate is only heightened when fellow entrepreneur Ralph Lauren has pledged to have no salary in 2021 to keep his business afloat – rather than relying on the taxpayers income. 

On the other side of the coin, for those companies who can’t sacrifice their workforce, they are instead opting to save funds by cutting salaries and working hours of their employees. For some this could only have a small impact, yet others can be earning up to 50% less – a sizeable change. The fashion industry in particular is having to constantly consider new ways to work with less money, yet also as importantly retaining as many employees as possible once things return to ‘normal.’

One way this is being done is by rotating peoples schedules in a sort of ‘shift’ pattern. It could be that an individual is working for two weeks and then off for another two, which can be helpful when it comes to things like childcare. Job shares are also becoming popular, a smart technique to make the most of all staff resources – and possibly more importantly, keeping employees sane. If you’re stuck for something, it may be worth contacting temp agencies in Manchester in order to see if there’s any short term unique opportunities – this could also be a useful chance for those who may be looking for entry level fashion jobs to still get on the ladder in a really tough time.

Some people have even left their traditional industry in order to take on key roles to help out others during the crisis. Those with cars have become delivery drivers, helping out local businesses with the influx of new custom they’ve received, while others are bravely risking their health on the front line by working in supermarkets and in NHS roles, from receptionists to cleaners. For anyone who may be short of work, such as fashion designers in Manchester, or fashion graduates in Manchester – you could also use this time to try something new. What’s really motivating is seeing how everyone is coming together and being innovative in such a strange and new time – one where the word ‘normal’ has a completely new definition.