Restaurant group Tomahawk has returned money loaned to the business by staff to cover National Insurance and pension contributions earlier this month while the group was experiencing short-term cash flow issues.
Tomahawk Steakhouse, which has 12 sites across the UK, was accused of "bullying" furloughed staff into paying their own pension and National Insurance contributions by way of a voluntary loan to the company, however Tomahawk denied that employees were told they would be sacked if they did not sign the loan agreement.
The group has credited last week's Budget announcement with providing the business with the financial support it needed to repay staff, although a spokesperson declined to confirm which aspect of the Budget specifically, and the company said it had also paid staff an additional 20%.
A statement from Tomahawk said: "As part of the voluntary agreement signed by all of our staff, we promised that any monies loaned would be returned as soon as we were financially able. Following the Budget announcement last week, we are delighted to have been able to swiftly honour that promise this week. All staff have now received the loaned amount, along with an additional 20%, as a thank you for supporting the business at this critical time."
Neil Derrick, GMB regional secretary, said: "This was always an outrageous exploitation of both the furlough scheme and low-paid, young workers. The cash should never have been taken in the first place as no employee can afford a further reduction in their take-home pay – especially when it's to cover their employer's own obligations.
"Tomahawk's bullying behaviour was rightly condemned across the board. Their U-turn is a massive win for workers. Let's hope this abuse of the furlough scheme is over and not repeated elsewhere."