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Calls for clarity on Government job retention scheme as JDW outlines plans

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Clarification needed urgently: UKHospitality has said businesses are being put in an impossible position
Clarification needed urgently: UKHospitality has said businesses are being put in an impossible position

Related tags: Coronavirus

The boss of JD Wetherspoon says he hopes his staff will receive the first payment under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme on Friday 3 April, but awaits clarification.

This comes after MPs criticised JDW chairman Tim Martin for informing his staff there would be a gap in wage payments while they were not working. The pubco said it would be unable to cover staff wages​ in the time before the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was expected to kick in at the end of April, with Martin describing this as “the economic reality of the unprecedented situation”. 

However, Martin said he was hopeful that the first payment under the new scheme would be made on Friday 3 April, subject to Government approval, and weekly payments would continue after this.

The Government said it would pay 80% of staff wages for staff who are furloughed and not working, in a bid to prevent widespread lay-offs.

JDW has submitted its proposed rules on how it would operate the scheme and submitted them to the Government for approval.

How does JDW want to operate the scheme?

The pub company said it had interpreted information from the Government so far to mean the following payments to staff:

Weekly paid employees will be paid on a Friday, or the preceding Thursday if the Friday is a bank holiday. The first payment will be made on Friday 3 April 2020. 

Monthly paid employees will be paid on the 27th of each calendar month or the previous Friday if this date falls on a weekend or bank holiday. The first payment will be made on Monday 27 April.

An interim payment will be made on Thursday 9 April to cover the pay period of 24-31 March 2020. 

Desperate for details

Trade body UKHospitality aided the pub company in submitting its plans. Its chief executive Kate Nicholls spoke of the difficulty faced by businesses that cannot trade and are still seeking clarity on Government support for their staff.

She said: “All companies in hospitality and leisure are caught in an impossible position whereby they need to make critical decisions about funding pay to colleagues, while enduring a period of zero income and without the certainty of when the promised Government help will arrive.  

“Confirmation of when this scheme will launch into action and cash will flow into businesses so that they, in turn, can pay their teams and fully participate in the recovery when the virus subsides and stability returns, would be enormously welcome.”

Grateful for support

Nicholls added: “We are extremely grateful to the Government for stepping in with this support for jobs and business but now we need urgent clarification on the detail of the scheme, particularly as finance from the banks is so slow to arrive, if at all.”

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which represents JD Wetherspoon staff, said it was still waiting to hear whether the pubco would make up the 20% gap after the Government’s input of 80% of wages. Employers are not obligated to do this under the new scheme.

JD Wetherspoon has confirmed that staff would be paid this Friday (27 March) for the hours they worked last week.

The pub giant has asked its suppliers if it could clear outstanding payments after pubs reopen​ and suspend any payments for the foreseeable future.

Updated Friday 27 March:​ The Government has released details about its job retention scheme, which The Morning Advertiser​ has outlined.

Related topics: Legislation, JD Wetherspoon, UnitedWeStand

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