Japanese-style noodle chain Wagamama has apologised after a picture of a notice in a London branch threatening disciplinary action should staff call in sick was posted online.
The notice, beneath a rota in the brand’s North Finchley branch, read: “No calling in sick! May I remind you that if you are unable to come in for your shift it is your responsibility to find somebody to cover your shift (as per contract and handbook). Calling in sick during the next 2 weeks will result in disciplinary action being taken.”
The hospitality branch of Unite union shared the photo on Facebook, describing it as “a shocking example” but “sadly quite normal across the industry – particularly at this time of year”.
Wagamama described it as an “isolated incident” and “strictly not company employment policy.”
In a series of tweets, Wagamama said: “Following reports of a notice posted in our North Finchley restaurant we can confirm this was an isolated incident and is strictly not company employment policy.
“The manager involved feared team member shortages over the festive period and regrettably decided to take this highly unusual approach. As a company we treat all our team with the greatest respect and understand and appreciate the hard work they all do.
“We sincerely apologise for what has happened and we wish all our team members and customers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
Bryan Simpson, a spokesman for Unite Hospitality, said: “To threaten workers with disciplinary action for being sick is not just morally reprehensible, it may be unlawful under the Health & Safety act and Equality Act as it discriminates against those with long-term physical and mental health conditions.”
He added: “Although this is an extreme example, we do believe that the issue of sick staff being pressured to come into work is systematic across the company.
“We have heard from workers across the country that conditions have gotten worse and worse. We want to sit down with senior managers and see how we can improve conditions.”
Wagamama operates approximately 124 restaurants in the UK and four in the USA as well as 44 under franchise agreements.
Videos from The Caterer archives