Employees at Cultureplex, which operates a bar, restaurant and cinema at the Native aparthotel on Manchester Ducie Street, have been told in a letter that they face redundancy as of 8 June if a resolution with HMRC can’t be met.
Cultureplex, which opened in the city in October last year, was previously owned by Bistrotheque, but was taken on by Go Native, the aparthotel's parent company, in February, safeguarding the jobs of the staff at the time.
However, in a letter to staff, Guy Nixon, founder and CEO of Go Native, said that the company has since discovered that while in principle it was able to claim money for the furlough, a ‘technicality’ has meant that HMRC has now blocked the company from receiving the payments for its 60 staff.
Native has funded the furlough payment until now, but says that if it cannot receive a resolution with HMRC by next week it will have to make ‘a substantial’ number of the Cultureplex team redundant.
“Native is also under massive financial strain due to the closure of all of our aparthotels except to the NHS. We just do not have the finances to be able to keep this going for much longer,” wrote Nixon.
"If we do not receive a solution to this, from the 8 of June we will have to make the incredibly difficult decision to lay off a substantial number of you in the Cultureplex team, paying you the furlough value to that point, again fully funded by Native.
"We desperately want to avoid this but without help from HMRC, we can’t fund this ourselves any further.”
The company says that the most I will be able to pay staff that it cannot continue to retain on furlough is just £150 over the next three months.
"We appreciate this is terrible news when we all reasonably expected these costs to be covered by the Government furlough scheme," says Nixon.
Staff at the company are urging HMR to reconsider its view in order to save the jobs in a hospitality sector that has been hit hard by the Coronavirus crisis.
A member of the Culturplex team told BigHospitality: “We are lucky the company has been so generous and hasn't asked us for any money back and they will take that hit, even paying our next month’s pay on 8 June, for which we cannot thank Guy and the company enough.
“However, understandably in this current climate, they inform us they cannot continue to pay us further from their own pocket.
“I and the other 60+ members of the team have over many years helped build the hospitality industry within Manchester. The team we have are all such hard working individuals, happy to work all hours with a smile on their faces, doing something they love. Through no fault of their own, they are being persecuted for something out of their control.
“We all know hospitality is a very low paid industry, many people relying on tips to meet their monthly outgoings - this will cripple them financially if we don't get help.”