Wednesday 25 March 2020 6:04 pm

Coronavirus: Wetherspoon to pay workers under jobs retention scheme

JD Wetherspoon will pay its 43,000 workers under the coronavirus jobs retention scheme after the pub chain faced backlash from employees.

All staff will be paid on Friday for hours worked last week, and the first payment under the new scheme will be made on 3 April and weekly from then on, the company said today. 

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All Wetherspoon’s sites were forced to close on Friday after the government issued an order banning pubs, bars and clubs from opening in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Previously Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin had expressed concern that the government job retention scheme – which pledges to cover 80 per cent of wages up to £2,500 – would take too long to kick in. 

In a video he told staff they could take a supermarket job while the pubs were closed.

Martin said today: “As we have already confirmed, Wetherspoon will pay all our 43,000 staff this Friday for the hours worked last week. The first payment under the new scheme will be made on Friday 3 April, subject to government approval, and weekly thereafter.

“Many thanks to Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality and the government for their great efforts in dealing with the logistical issues involved in introducing a complex scheme so quickly.”

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “In the case of our member companies, as graphically illustrated by Wetherspoon, the top priority has been how can we get money into businesses to pay workers, when we collectively have no income and squeezed liquidity.  

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“Confirmation of when this scheme will launch into action and cash will flow into businesses so that they in turn can pay their teams, and fully participate in the recovery when the virus subsides and stability returns, would be enormously welcome.”