Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has agreed to pay his staff before his company receives financial support from the government’s wage reimbursement scheme, following pressure from almost 100 MPs and widespread media criticism.
The firm has now reviewed the proposed rules on how the scheme can work and subject to agreement with the government that reimbursement will be implemented by the end of April and other payroll details, Wetherspoon will introduce the scheme immediately.
Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “As we have already confirmed, Wetherspoon will pay all our 43,000 staff this Friday for the hours worked last week. The first payment under the new scheme will be made on Friday 3 April, subject to government approval, and weekly thereafter. “Many thanks to Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality and the government for their great efforts in dealing with the logistical issues involved in introducing a complex scheme so quickly.”
UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls 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.
“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 pub giant, which employs around 40,000 people, earlier this week said that staff would receive their weekly pay on Friday but could not confirm when they would receive future payments, and recommended they find temporary employment at Tesco’s supermarkets. It suggested they would not be paid again until the firm received the chancellor’s grant, announced last week, which will cover 80% of salaries for workers who have been furloughed during the coronavirus pandemic if they are kept on as employees.
Almost 100 MPs wrote an open letter to Martin, calling on him to pay his staff and “serve his country” during the coronavirus crisis. Yesterday a south London Wetherspoon pub was vandalised with ‘pay your staff’ on the window.