A steakhouse chain that opened its first restaurant in London in December 2020 has been accused of forcing its employees to lend 10% of their wages while on leave – the government scheme that covers 80% of the wages of workers unable to work in due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tomahawk, which took over Jamie Oliver Fifteen’s former flagship restaurant in Hoxton, reportedly informed staff that they would have to sign a new contract to help the company survive the lockdown. Staff who spoke to the BBC said the channel had also told them that failing to sign the contract would risk Tomahawk needing to “see if this job is right for you.”
The company reportedly informed all of its staff of the proposal via Zoom and by letter, informing them that it had a “short-term cash flow problem”. Government loan programs designed to support businesses facing coronavirus-related cash flow issues remain open until the end of March, but the company told employees “the only viable alternative is to seek your approval for a deal. loan “, due to its obligation to pay national insurance and pension contributions for staff on leave.
Tomahawk said he signed up “100%” to the program and denied claims that participation was due to the implied threat of dismissal. He said: “At no point did Tomahawk Steakhouse suggest that staff members would be fired if they did not sign a loan agreement.”
The GMB union, which represents more than 600,000 workers in the UK, called the plan “an abuse of the leave scheme”. Its regional secretary, Neil Derrick, pointed out that “it has never been easier or cheaper for businesses to borrow money”, and said Tomahawk “wants it for free and they have resolved their cash flow problem by giving their Staff a cash flow problem. ” Throughout the coronavirus crisis, leave did not take trunk – a widely adopted system for tip distribution – in its calculations, which means that many restaurant workers have not received 80 percent of what they normally earn, which puts them at particular risk in the event of an additional deduction.
Tomahawk has five other restaurants outside of London. When moving into Jamie Oliver’s former restaurant last winter, he said that “we have given new life to the whole place”. When Jamie Oliver’s band was marketed by Christie and Co after its collapse, Fifteen’s annual rent stood at £ 128,000 a year, with offers starting at £ 50,000.