Canadian licensed cannabis company Organigram Holdings Inc. is temporarily laying off about 45 percent of its workforce as part of its coronavirus response. The company said the move is an attempt to “help boost COVID-19 containment efforts representing approximately 400 employees.”
CEO Greg Engel said in a statement that the company’s “priority right now is to make sound strategic decisions that are in the best interests” of the company’s employees “which will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the company.”
“This is a new and evolving situation demanding strong leadership and smart decision-making across all industries and sectors. We continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation and will make the decisions necessary to ensure the safest environment for our employees as well as insulating our business as best we can under the circumstances.” – Engel in a statement
The company had alluded to the cuts last month and said “the majority” of the layoffs were voluntary. They indicated that affected employees would receive lump-sum payments “to help bridge the gap to available government programs.” Additionally, the company said it will absorb the paid health, dental, and short-term disability premiums for all of its employees.
Organigram said they expect to reduce their cultivation, harvest, production, and packaging operations but plan to “supplement with inventories on hand to meet anticipated demand.”
“Specifically, the company will be focused on leveraging automated and the most efficient lines of production and will deprioritize lower value products requiring higher manual labor,” Organigram said in a press release.
The firm said it had already taken coronavirus mitigation actions at its facilities and offices as recommended by Health Canada, including work-from-home policies, the establishment of an Emergency Response Team, restrictions on work-related travel, social distancing, and enhanced sanitation practices.
Last week Canopy Growth announced temporary layoffs of 200 employees amid the outbreak, but also said they were re-opening some of the stores they shuttered last month. Canopy CEO Jordan Sinclair told Bloomberg that the temporary layoffs were retail employees and that the stores would operate under a “click and collect model” and reduced hours.