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PARIS — Chanel has pledged to maintain eight weeks of salary for its 8,500 employees in France, stepping in to support its workforce instead of leaning on the country’s emergency unemployment relief measures to battle financial destruction from the coronavirus.

“As we face the current unprecedented and global health and economic crisis, Chanel, as a responsible corporate citizen, has decided — in agreement with the social partners — not to avail itself of the partial unemployment system put in place in France,” the company said in a statement. 

“The goal is to avoid placing a burden on public finances so that the French government can help the most vulnerable businesses as a priority and, of course, channel its financing into the health-care system, health-care workers and emergency services.” 

The measure covers the March 16 to May 8 period, and includes workers at the group’s Métiers d’Arts activity and production sites as well as its Eres lingerie label. 

The company is also making a 1.2 million euro contribution to an emergency fund for the public hospital system in Paris and French emergency services, financing work on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19. 

Chanel is also donating more than 50,000 face masks to public authorities for use in hospitals and for police and firefighters. 

Chanel is seeking approval to draw on its partner manufacturers, including 150 workers who sew for the brand’s haute couture, ready-to-wear and maisons d’art work shops to make protective face masks and gowns. 

The French government has introduced a range of emergency measures to struggling companies and has urged larger players to demonstrate solidarity with smaller companies, by maintaining payments to suppliers, for example.

Other French luxury groups LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering have also jumped in to help supply the country’s government with masks.

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