Kuehne + Nagel (K+N) will ensure furloughed staff receive 100% of their wages by topping up payments for anyone earning under £20,000.

The agreement, secured after negotiations with the company’s union Unite, will also see employees paid 90% of their wages if they earn under £30,000.

Under the government’s job retention scheme, workers receive 80% of their wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month during the COVID-19 lockdown.

But K+N will boost these payments further using a sliding scale and the union said this meant staff earning between £30,000 and £40,000 stood to receive 86% of their wages on average.

Employees also have the option to move onto food delivery contracts that are still operational to avoid being furloughed and retain their full pay packet.

Unite said it had around 6,500 members in K+N’s food and drink logistics operations alone and the furlough agreement was particularly important for them because deliveries to restaurants, pubs, cafes and hotels had stopped during the lockdown.

Joe Clarke, Unite national officer, hailed the agreement as “an excellent deal” and said other firms should take note of what K+N had proposed.

He said: “Kuehne + Nagel staff, while still facing some wage reductions, can rest assured that they will be able to afford to pay their bills and feed their families during the lockdown.

“For those who still want to work and earn 100% of their wages, the company is offering them the opportunity to move onto contracts that are still operational.

“Over the past two weeks, Unite has worked closely with Kuehne + Nagel to get this furlough deal through.

“Other companies should take the lead from Kuehne + Nagel and make sure their staff are equally well looked after during this crisis.”

A K+N spokesman said it would not be making any further comment on the agreement.