PizzaExpress faces backlash over changes to staff rotas

18 May 2023 by
PizzaExpress faces backlash over changes to staff rotas

PizzaExpress is facing a backlash over changes to its staff rota that waiters fear could lead to a cut in their hours.

The move, set to be introduced this week, will see a reduction in the number of waiting staff working before 5pm, with restaurant managers set to take over the lunch shifts.

Union Unite, which represents some of the chain's 10,000 workers, said the change could see thousands of staff lose hundreds of hours of work "without proper consultation".

"The impact this will have on the most financially insecure part-time workers who need these lunchtime hours to fit around school and childcare is catastrophic," Bryan Simpson, lead organiser at Unite, told The Caterer.

Simpson said PizzaExpress chief executive Paula MacKenzie had been forced to call an emergency general meeting with all general managers this week due to the backlash.

"The feedback from our members is that this meeting did nothing to allay fears," he added.

The Guardian has reported that staff were told in messages from the chain that staffing changes were to ensure the company "hit budget".

One member of staff told the paper she expected to lose around 12 hours of work a week, equivalent to £125 a week in minimum wage, plus tips.

A spokesperson for PizzaExpress said the changes would impact less than a quarter of its 350 UK restaurants and said: "Customer habits are always changing, and we have to adapt to that. As part of this we're tweaking our operational system, so we always have the right number of team members in our restaurants to serve the number of customers dining.

"Across less than a quarter of our restaurants, we are tweaking the shift patterns of a very small number of our team members on the early-week daytime shift.

"We will work with our team members to find other shifts, pick up hours at nearby restaurants or for those with fixed patterns, honour their current hours if they're unable to change these.

"Alongside offering the very best dining experience for our loyal customers, our key focus is ensuring we're doing right by our nearly 10,000-strong team."

It comes a year after front of house staff at PizzaExpress successfully campaigned to reverse a move by a tronc committee to give a greater proportion of tips to kitchen staff.

Waiting staff said the move to allocate 50% of electronic tips to the kitchen team, up from 30%, would have cost them around £2,000 a year.

Unite is continuing to campaign for the reversal of the new rota policy.

Simpson said: "As we did on fair tips, we will [be] doing everything in our power to force the abandonment of this awful proposal with the collective support of our members across PizzaExpress."

Image: Brookgardener / Shutterstock

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