Britannia Hotels has said a letter in which a member of staff was told they were being made redundant and asked to leave hotel accommodation "immediately" was "an administrative error".
Industry figures condemned the letter, which was given to an employee at the group's Coylumbridge Aviemore hotel yesterday and went viral on social media last night.
Britannia sent out a statement this morning which said: "With regards to the current situation regarding staff at our Coylumbridge hotel and being asked to vacate their staff accommodation. Unfortunately, the communication sent to these employees was an administrative error.
"We have approximately 25 live in staff who did not receive this communication. Unfortunately, Mr Garcia and a few other members of staff received the incorrect correspondence, due to this administration error.
"All affected employees are being immediately contacted. We apologise for any upset caused."
Hotel operators including Macdonald Hotels stepped up to offer the displaced staff accommodation.
A spokesperson for the group's Aviemore hotel said: “We immediately contacted the management there to offer their employees access to our staff accommodation at the nearby Macdonald Aviemore Resort to ensure they wouldn’t be put out on the street.
“Any workers from Coylumbridge hotel who require accommodation should get in touch with Macdonald Aviemore Resort and we’ll be pleased to help them.”
The letter read: “Taking the latest government advice, this letter is to confirm that with effect from 19 March 2020 your employment has been terminated as your services are no longer required.
“Your final payslip will include all hours worked up to and including your final day, together with any accrued holidays not already taken and one week’s pay in lieu of notice.
“Please understand that if you have taken more holidays this year than you had currently built up an allowance for, then, this amount will be deducted from your final salary, as per the terms and conditions of your contract of employment.
“You are asked to vacate the hotel accommodations immediately, returning any company property to John Macfarlane, hotel controller before leaving the hotel.
“I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success in securing future employment and thank you for your time at Britannia Hotels.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said on Twitter: “These are acutely difficult times and we know there is fear and anxiety but our businesses want to do the right thing by our people - and this is categorically not that and is so far away from our devastating normality. We have help available for those affected.”
The letter follows the Prime Minister's briefing yesterday, in which he said "think very carefully before you start laying off staff. Stand by your staff because we will stand by you".
He indicated that more help for businesses will be announced today after anticipated relief to cover wages failed to materialise last night.
Robert Richardson, general manager of the Grand Folkestone hotel, said: “Whomever authorised that should be ashamed! I am so sorry for the recipients of these letters. I run an independent and have thus far managed to keep everyone together, and it is hard; I can’t ever condone what I’ve just seen."
“They could at least let them stay for a bit to get themselves together,” posted Salt restaurant chef-patron Paul Foster, while several operators called it "despicable behaviour".
James Medhurst, a senior associate in the employment team at law firm Royds Withy King said: “This is a risky approach to take when making staff redundant. Whilst there are potential arguments that consultation can be curtailed in exceptional circumstances, an employment tribunal may disagree with the potential liabilities being high.
“In ordinary circumstances, the law requires employers to consult with staff for anywhere up to 45 days when making redundancies. If an employment tribunal finds that the regulations have not been followed, staff will be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal and, in some cases, there will also be an award for failure to collectively consult of up to 90 days’ pay.
“It is also worth taking into account the reputational risks hotels face when managing redundancies in this way.”