Regional restaurant chain denies misusing furlough wages scheme

NORTH East restaurant chain Tomahawk Steakhouse are in a dispute with their staff and a trade union over payments from the Government’s furlough scheme.

All 500 of the company’s employees, currently furloughed under Covid-19 restrictions, received a letter – seen by the BBC and General Municipal Boilermakers (GMB) union – asking its 500 employees ” for your agreement to a loan arrangement”.

Some employees claimed they were told their position would be under review if they failed to sign the agreement, which asked employees for 10% of their furlough wages to cover national insurance and pension payments.

Regional GMB secretary Neil Derrick said today: ‘’We think it is an abuse of the job retention and furlough schemes. We’ve asked HMRC to investigate.’’

Tomahawk responded with a statement on their Facebook page, insisting that the loan agreement was entirely voluntary and said: ‘’At no point did Tomahawk Steakhouse suggest that staff would be sacked if they did not sign a loan agreement”.

When approached, Parliamentary Treasury Minister Jesse Norman said that employers must pay “all the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant they receive from HMRC to cover 80% of wages” and “cannot enter into any transaction with the worker which reduces the wages below the amount claimed”.

HMRC urged anyone with concerns around abuse of the furlough scheme to contact them.

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