BY TOM TANNER
Although the information below is directed at business leaders dealing with this difficult situation, it is important that all employees are aware too. Please read and ensure you are well informed.
People are the bedrock of any sustainable foodservice business. Right now we know you are having to make some very tough decisions about your workforce. The whole industry is hoping that the Government will make a further urgent announcement about financial support that could influence the decision you take.
We’ve consulted operators, support organisations, lawyers and unions to gather as much practical information as we can to support your teams as best you can, whether that’s keeping them on reduced salaries or having to make them redundant.
Steps for employers
1- What should we do first?
Review all the financial advice, support and information on offer from the Government. There’s a summary of the key points on here, including the loans, grants and rates support on offer. There’s also advice on Statutory Sick Pay and how you can support your teams if you are still open for business here.
2- What if, having read and reviewed this, we need to restructure our workforce?
Lawyers, trade unions and support organisations like Hospitality Action all agree that the most important thing to do is to engage your staff. Read the advice of Dave Turnbull, Hospitality National Office for Unite here.
Catherine Gannon founder of Gannons Solicitors in this article for Big Hospitality says that while reduced hours or more drastic action may be necessary for the future of the business, it is essential to be open and transparent with employees. “The key here is to introduce a thorough, documented consultation process…by introducing a documented consultation process, operators won’t find themselves in breach of any employment law regulations…Remember no one wants to lose their job, so having that open and honest conversation from the outset is absolutely crucial here to deter the need for redundancies.”
ACAS, the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Services spell out what’s required here. “Unless it says in the contract or is agreed otherwise, they still need to pay their employees for this time.”
Employees who are laid off and are not entitled to their usual pay might be entitled to a ‘statutory guarantee payment’ of up to £29 a day from their employer.”
How do I look after my employees?
There are steps you can take to soften the blow for your staff that will have the dual effect of being of genuinely practical use and demonstrate that you really do care and encourage them to come back and work for you later.
Madeline Geach, Head of Culture at Hawksmoor, which has closed its restaurants and has had to let some staff go has provided them all with a super-useful list of actions, And Madeleine says: “We are staying in daily contact with our people (on Workplace our comms channel) and are in the process of setting up a WhatsApp group to keep in contact with people who have sadly been let go of to provide them with support.”
Here is a selection of the tips compiled by Hawksmoor and NZR Group for their employees:
- Register with local job centre immediately and enquire about the benefits you’re entitled to via Citizen’s Advice (CAB)
- Ask your council for reduction in council tax
- Review monthly subscriptions, outstanding credit card bills, utility bills and direct debits, then try a budget planner
- If you’re a homeowner use the three-month mortgage holiday announced by the Govt
- If you’re a tenant then contact your landlord (SRA note – you could also give them this template letter for them to send to their landlord explaining their situation)
- Speak to Hospitality Action (HA) for specialist support dealing with challenging times, advice on coping with stress and financial guidance call the Hospitality Action help line. HA will be launching a rapid action grant later this week to help those facing homelessness while they apply for universal credit.
The full advice is here.
It concludes with sensible tips about what to do without the routine and structure of a job. This is best diluted into three tips:
- Keep to a schedule
- Make a daily list of tasks
- Keep in touch with family and friends
And finally, do provide people with information about organisations that can help including:
Hospitality Action or 0808 802 0282
Mental Health Foundation (a guide to look after your mental health during the Corona crisis)
CAB or 03444 111 444
Keep up-to-date on our COVID-19 advice page
Sign up to WhatsApp for more solutions and ideas
Visit the community to ask a question or call us on 020 3903 2777