Update: Rick Stein restaurant group responds to claims it won't be paying staff beyond March 21st

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 26th March 2020

Celebrity chef Rick Stein responded to claims that the Group had told staff across his restaurants that they would receive no pay from March 21st until government grants come through'. 

The chef, who, like many others in the restaurant world, closed his restaurants following the government's order to do so, said that it was a case of life or death for the business and that if he were to pay his staff, his company risked failure and they would be left jobless. 

After this was reported in the Daily Mail and received a huge response on social media, Ian Fitzgerald, the company's managing director issued the following statement:

“Rick and Jill are committed to looking after their staff and suppliers and the best way they can do that is to ensure that they still have a company at the end of this terrible time; that everyone can keep their job – their responsibility is for the long term.  

“All staff will be paid, in full, for all the hours they have worked on the next scheduled pay date which is Friday 10th April.  All 600 employees have been furloughed in order to protect them. Although the government has acted swiftly in their commitment to cover 80% of salaries for all staff, the portal for applications will not be available until the end of April and monies will follow in the weeks after that, which is not until May.  If we honour staff salaries in the meantime the company may have to close permanently and that won't benefit anyone. 

"We are working day and night with our insurers and bankers to look at solutions to pay staff the hours we would have expected them to have worked had worked had we been open, in the hope that we can fund these payments before the grants would be paid.  We await further details from the government. 

“We look to the strength and power of the media to keep the pressure on the government agencies to implement the policies as quickly as possible so that we can pay our staff and for the insurance companies to honour the policies purchased to protect companies.”  

According to The Daily Mail, a message on the company’s internal message board notified staff of the following: "We cannot afford to pay anybody after March 21. If we were to do that the company will be gone within a few weeks," adding that "This is a terrible thing to be telling you, but it is the most responsible thing we can do to save your job."

Employees would instead need to sit tight and await the government's salary subsidies of up to 80% of wages (capped at £2,500), unless, it read, "other funding from our bankers and insurers," in which case they may receive payment "within weeks."

As one would expect the Twitter community was quick to fly off the handle, accusing Stein of being 'another multi-millionaire shafting his employees', and this despite having made public calls to support hospitality workers on social media.

However not all were disparaging of the chef, with a person alleging to work for him saying it seemed "a little unfair" to put him in the same box as other multi-millionaires, pointing to the fact that his restaurant group has been named as one of the country's best companies to work for.

Meanwhile, Jack Stein, Rick Stein's middle son Tweeted that while the media reports had ruffled his feathers, he and the restaurant group team were focused on helping out frontline NHS staff at Treliske hospital in Truro, Cornwall. 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 26th March 2020

Update: Rick Stein restaurant group responds to claims it won't be paying staff beyond March 21st