Morrisons is to hire 3,500 new workers as part of plans to ramp up its home delivery service during the coronavirus pandemic.

The grocer plans to employ 2,500 new pickers and delivery drivers, as well as 1,000 new warehouse staff, to help serve customers “at a time of national need”.

From Monday, Morrisons will introduce new simple-to-order food parcels and make more delivery slots available to online shoppers, both on its website and the Morrisons Store on Amazon Prime.

The supermarket giant will use 100 additional stores across the UK for online picking to help it fulfil extra orders and will also launch a customer call centre, allowing consumers who can’t shop online the ability to order groceries for home delivery.

The move comes just days after it announced on plans to pay its smaller suppliers within 48 hours to ease any cash flow concerns during the coronavirus crisis.

As part of a fresh raft of measures “to support colleagues and customers” through the pandemic, Morrisons also said it will create a “colleague hardship fund”, designed to help workers who are left in financial difficulty as a result of the outbreak.

Any Morrisons staff members who are diagnosed with the virus will receive sick pay, whether or not they are eligible. It added that anyone who is self-isolating or at home looking after family members or vulnerable neighbours would be eligible to receive sick pay, alternate shifts or holiday.

The retailer will protect staff on the shop floor by asking customers to pay by card or smartphone if possible, in order to reduce the amount of cash being handled.

Morrisons will also redeploy colleagues who are vulnerable to the virus where possible.

Chief executive David Potts said: “We expect the days, weeks and months ahead to be very testing and we are determined to do our bit.

“These measures will support our very hard-working colleagues, enable us to provide more food to more people in their homes and create opportunities for people whose jobs are affected by the coronavirus.”

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