Unite in hospitality
- Monday 16 March 2020
Coronavirus crisis has hit hospitality hard.
Hundreds of thousands of workers in restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels across the UK have been laid off or told ‘go home’ there’s no work, no pay’. No restaurant, pub or bar has been untouched. Workers need protection now.
Unite is working tirelessly to protect jobs and wages. The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is a historic first, negotiated with Unite and sister unions as well as businesses to protect wages in this time of crisis. Under the scheme the government commits to cover 80% of the wages of furloughed workers up to £2,500 a month. Hospitality workers on zero hours or agency contracts are covered. Pay will be calculated as an average over the last 12 months and not 12 weeks which is a big win and is backdated from 1 March 2020.
The schemes don’t cover everyone. You just have to look at the likes of Tim Martin the super wealth Wetherspoons owner who was forced to backtrack after telling staff 'go work at Tesco's', you won't get paid and Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley to know that there are some bad employees out there. Unite helped expose these two and others too.
Your employer no longer needs to let you go, if they are making you redundant, forcing you to take unpaid or paid leave or onto statutory sick pay (SSP), then please tell us about it using the form below.
For more detailed information on the Coronavirus pandemic and government guidance, check out Unite’s Coronavirus advice to officers, reps and members and the government’s guidance. If you can’t find the answer to your question, ask it using the form below.
- How do I get the 80% of my wages paid? It is your employer’s responsibility to claim for employee’s wages through the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. To claim your employer must furlough you (temporary lay off) for at least three weeks. Your employer should contact you by letter or email to let you know that you’re being temporarily laid off (furloughed) and about making changes to your employment contract by agreement. If they haven’t, ask for confirmation in writing.
Your employer might not have realised that they are entitled to use the scheme to pay your wages. If you haven’t heard from them, ask in writing whether they intend to use the scheme to keep paying your wages. The scheme is in place for an initial 12 weeks.
- My employer has made me take unpaid leave, can I claim the 80% wage support? If your employer has made you take unpaid or paid leave since 28 February, you should email your HR and line managers and say that you no longer accept being on leave and ask to be ‘furloughed’ under the government’s scheme instead. Make sure to ask for it to be backdated to when you first started your leave.
- I’ve been laid off, am I entitled to the 80% wage support? If you were laid off (still employed but not getting paid) after 28 February 2020, your employer can put you on ‘furlough’ and claim for your wages under the scheme. If you have not heard from your employer, write to them to asking if they are using the scheme. Remind them to backdate your pay to 1 March 2020. If they say no, ask them to give you their reasons in writing and tell us about it using the form below.
- I’ve been made redundant, can I claim the 80% wage support scheme? If you were made redundant, dismissed or left your job after the 28 February there is nothing to stop your employer from rehiring you, putting you on ‘furlough’ and claiming the 80% wage funding. You will need to challenge the redundancy/dismissal and ask for your job back. Write to your employer asking to be rehired. Your employer can then claim under the scheme. If they refuse, please ask for their reasons and contact us.
But if your employer has filed for administration please see #6 below.
- I'm on a zero hours contract, can I claim the 80% wage support? Yes, and the good news is that if your pay varies, the government funding will be calculated based on a average over the past 12 months (2019/2020 tax year) or your wages for the same month last year, whichever is higher. The same applies to agency workers. If you’ve had your job for less than a year, they’ll take an average of your earnings since you started.
- My employer’s gone bust, can I still claim the 80% wage support? Sadly despite all of the government’s funding packages some already precarious businesses will collapse into administration. Unite will support members to get the wages they’re owed. Get your workmates to join Unite and contact us.
But it’s important to note that where a company is being taken under the management of an administrator, the administrator will be able to access the Job Retention Scheme.
- I started my new job after the 28 February, am I entitled to the 80% wage support? No, currently new starters, employed after the 28 February 2020 are not covered by the job retention or self-employment schemes. It’s a huge oversight and completely unacceptable that workers are being left with nothing because of glaring gaps in the schemes. Unite is calling on the government to revisit this urgently.
- My employer has said that I won't get paid until the end of April, when he/she is reimbursed by the government, what can I do? Please tell us about this, using the form below. Your employer should pay your wages when they’re next due. There are no excuses for delaying payment. But some employers may struggle with cash flow issues and delay paying your wages. See #9 below.
- I don’t have enough money to wait for my employer to pay me, what can I do? Unite has called on all employers to pay the extra 20% of workers’ wages and pay wages when they’re due. But some employers won’t. If you find yourself without enough money, you can:
See what benefits you can get
See what help is available is you can’t pay your bills
Self-isolating. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- I'm pregnant and my employer has said I need to move on to SSP, what can I do? No you don’t. Pregnancy is not an illness. Ask your employer to explain why you are not being furloughed and paid through the government’s CJRS. You should remind them that the 2010 Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone or treat them unfairly because of pregnancy.
- I’m self-isolating, what will I be paid?
Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay, but can be furloughed after this. Unite is lobbying government to increase SSP from £94.25 per week to £114 p/w.
Employees who are ‘extremely vulnerable’ and shielding in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough. Employers can do this even if the business isn’t shutting down. More info here.
Do you struggle with low wages? Tired of feeling disposable? Ever wonder what it would be like to get together with other hospitality workers to make your job better?
Well now you can.
We are Unite restaurant and bar workers, and we’ve done it. We’re part of a growing movement of workers taking action to hold our employers and the entire hospitality industry to account. It can afford to pay and treat us fairly.
Join our call for:
- A wage we can live on - a real living wage for all ages
- Fair tips, shifts and rotas
- Union rights and a voice
- Better work life: rest breaks and guaranteed hours
- Safe, secure workplace: free from bullying and sexual harassment.
Find more info at #FairHospitality.org
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