Tomahawk Steak House
Tomahawk Steak House

York Central MP Rachael Maskell has spoken out against attempts by the Tomahawk Steakhouse chain to make employees “lend” the company part of their furlough payment or have their position in the company reconsidered.

Tomahawk, which has restaurants throughout Yorkshire and the North East of England, had stated in a letter to employees that it had a “short-term cash flow issue” and “needed your help and support”, going on to ask employees to “lend” the company 10% of their furlough payment or their “suitability for the role will have to be reviewed” and that the “only viable alternative is to ask for your agreement to a loan arrangement”.  The company go on to explain that this is to pay the employer’s contribution for National Insurance and pensions.

The arrangement was criticised by the GMB union, and Ms Maskell submitted a number of Written Parliamentary Questions to the Treasury to tease out if this was lawful or the intent of Government, and what recourse was available to staff who had been subject to this unlawful treatment. The Treasury Minister, Jesse Norman MP, the Government’s Finance Secretary, responded stating that “Employers are required to pay staff all the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) payment they receive from HMRC…Employers cannot enter into any transaction with the worker which reduces the wages below the amount claimed.”

The full text of the Written Parliamentary Question can be found here

Rachael Maskell MP has stated, “In response to Tomahawk’s threat to staff in York to loan them 10% of their furlough pay or have their future position reviewed, it is clear that they have acted unlawfully. The Minister has responded to my Parliamentary Question to state that employers cannot enter into arrangements that reduce the value of furlough payments – which clearly they have.

“The Government made provision for employers to take out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBILs) for companies who are financially challenged as a result of the pandemic. Tomahawk should be going to the bank for help, not the staff.

“I thank the GMB for challenging the Company and trying to get this resolved for the staff. Trade unions are there to ensure that there is justice for working people, and I encourage anyone who is in work to join a union. As this case has proved, workers never know when an employer will side-step the law or cause difficulties at work.”

You can read the full article on the York Press Website here

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