JCB is suspending UK production until "at least" the end of April as a result of the Covid-19 crisis - and has pledged to continue to pay employees unable to work.

The company said today, Wednesday, March 25, that the vast majority of JCB’s 6,500 workforce in the UK will now be asked to stop working until at least the end of April. The firm said in a statement that, during this period, all affected JCB employees will be paid 80% of their basic pay.

The firm added that senior JCB directors will not be taking a salary from the company until further notice.

The company's nine manufacturing plants in England and Wales closed on March 18 as disruption resulting from Covid-19 caused an "unprecedented reduction in global demand".

At that stage, only shop floor employees were affected by the move, and were paid in full during this period, while office staff continued to work a 39-hour week from home.

Graham McDonald, JCB's CEO, said: "These are certainly unprecedented times and none of us is expected to find ourselves in this situation.

"In announcing that all those JCB colleagues asked not to work will receive 80% of their pay, we hope to remove any financial concerns that many people will undoubtedly have had," McDonald added.

The company also intends to make an application to the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to help offset the cost of paying employees.

That scheme is designed to support employers in continuing to pay part of employees’ salaries, for employees who would otherwise have been laid off.