Wetherspoon pub chain will pay all staff for hours worked last week

Progress being made on the Government’s wages scheme, says chairman Tim Martin.

Wetherspoon issue statement on pay
Wetherspoon issue statement on pay

The Wetherspoon pub chain will pay all its 43,000 staff this Friday for the hours worked last week, while the first payment under Government’s wages scheme will be made on April 3, it has been announced.

The company, and its chairman Tim Martin, has been under attack for sending staff home last week, with workers saying they would not be paid.

Wetherspoon has drawn up its own proposed rules as to how the Government’s retention scheme would work, and has submitted these to ministers for approval.

Mr 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 April 3, subject to Government approval, and weekly thereafter.”

Coronavirus
Chairman of JD Wetherspoon Tim Martin (Henry Nicholls/PA)

Mr Martin thanked trade body UK Hospitality and the Government for their “great efforts” in dealing with the logistical issues involved in introducing a complex scheme so quickly.

The company said that under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), it will continue to pay a proportion of employees’ pay, for those who would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis.

Details of the scheme, first announced by the Chancellor last week, are still being finalised, and the company said it had set out its best interpretation of how payments to employees will be made.

Weekly paid employees will be paid weekly on a Friday from April 3, while those on monthly pay will be paid monthly, on the 27th of each month, from April 27 – although an interim payment will be made on April 9, said Wetherspoon.

The Government has said it will reimburse firms 80% of normal total pay to employees, up to a cap of £2,500 a month.

Earlier, Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, wrote to Mr Martin, and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, calling for them to set out the measures their businesses are taking to support their employees during the current crisis.

Rachel Reeves
Commons business committee chairwoman Rachel Reeves (Danny Lawson/PA)

She said: “Sports Direct and JD Wetherspoons are big names on our high streets, relying on the dedication and hard-work of their staff and the trust of customers for their success.

“At times of national crisis, it’s vital that businesses step up, do the right thing and stand by their workers and their customers.

“When many businesses are undertaking great work to support the national effort, it’s crucial that companies such as JD Wetherspoons and Sports Direct do all they can ensure their workers are properly protected and get the pay to which they are entitled.”

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.

“In the case of our member companies, as graphically illustrated by Wetherspoon, the top priority has been how can we get money into businesses to pay workers, when we collectively have no income and squeezed liquidity.

“Confirmation of when this scheme will launch into action and cash will flow into businesses so that they in turn can pay their teams, and fully participate in the recovery when the virus subsides and stability returns, would be enormously welcome.

“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.”

Wetherspoon worker Alex MacIntyre, an official of the BFAWU union, said the company had performed a “welcome U-turn”, adding: “We should never have had to wait till the end of April to be paid.

“We’re still waiting for confirmation that we’ll be paid 100% of our wages as this is not yet clear.

“Nobody should have to worry about paying bills, rent or buying food when they work for such a profitable company.”

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