As many as one million hospitality jobs have aleady been lost this week, with groups laying off on average 80% of their staff, according to a straw poll conducted by Street Feast founder Jonathon Downey, but these a fear that a further one million are at risk, unless the chancellor Rishi Sunak offers a significant package to employees.
The Government is expected to announce an employment rescue package later today (20 March) although it is unclear exactly what this might entail. While some hospitality leaders are pushing for a similar measures taken by the government in Denmark, where the state has announced that it will cover 75% of employees’ monthly salary for three months for those who would otherwise have lost their jobs, with the employer paying the remaining 75%.
Victor Lugger, co-founder of restaurant group Big Mamma, said last week that he had put 250 of his 1,000 staff based in France into partial employment where the government is paying 85% of their net salary for a month.
Industry sources suggest that the Government won’t go as far as this and is considering funding 60% of employees’ salaries, payable by the employer and then reclaimed from the Government, but a move such as this would not be enough to save many hospitality businesses.
There are growing fears that the restaurant industry in the UK will follow that of the US, where the spread of the Coronavirus is in a more advanced stage and which has hit restaurant operators hard, According to reports, New York restaurateur Andrew Carmellini has closed his restaurant empire, laying off all but 100 of his 1,500 workers.
Meanwhile, Union Square Hospitality group, which is run by restaurateur Danny Meyer, has reportedly let go of 2,000 employees across its 20 restaurants, equating to around 80% of its workforce. This figure is in line with the percentage of employers UK hospitality businesses said they have laid off in the recent straw poll.
“We need the Government to be doing much more, and sooner, to prevent the catastrophic loss of jobs and livelihoods,” says Downey. “Millions of jobs are being wiped out.”