Pret A Manger has announced that a temporary pay cut, introduced because of the pandemic, will now be permanent.

The sandwich chain giant attempted to mitigate the effects of low footfall at the beginning of the pandemic by not paying workers during their breaks.

However, as restrictions ease and footfall picks up, the company has informed workers that the measures will be kept in place, announcing that trade remains “significantly below” pre-pandemic levels.

Pret has issued a partial U-turn on plans to further cut staff bonuses, after workers threatened strike action.

A service bonus, linked to performance in front of a mystery shopper, was scrapped last summer. When reintroduced, it was at 50p rather than the pre-pandemic rate of £1.

Workers were told that change would be made permanent, but Pret boss Pano Christou told staff that the bonus was being restored to £1 after taking staff “feedback into consideration”.

In an email to staff, Mr. Christou said:

The business is still in recovery but it’s important that we continue to invest in and support our teams however we can.

The most important thing for me throughout the last year has been to protect as many Pret jobs as we can.

Unfortunately it’s taking longer than we had hoped to get sales back to what they were before the pandemic, which is why we’ve had to make some difficult decisions about how we reward our hard-working teams.

In real terms, the pay cut for Pret staff, the majority of whom earn the minimum wage of £8.91, will see a pay cut of just over 6 per cent a shift compared to pre-pandemic levels.

This is as a result of a legally required half-hour break for workers on an eight-hour shift.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pret has closed 39 shops in the UK, along with cutting 3,771 jobs across the country.

A spokesperson for the company said there would be a pay review in April next year.