D&D CEO lobbies for tronc inclusion in UK furlough scheme

Chairman and CEO of D&D London, Des Gunewardena has written to the Chancellor to lobby the inclusion of tronc payments in the UK furlough scheme.

With D&D restaurants in Paris and New York, Gunewardena has seen first hand how other governments are supporting hospitality workers, and with tronc currently not included in a hospitality workers income in the UK, their furlough salary payments are falling shockingly short.

Gunewardena feels it is necessary to speak on behalf of all of their staff and employees and other hospitality workers in the UK who currently don’t have a voice and are some of the worst hit as a result of the pandemic.

The letter reads as follows:

'My company D&D London owns and operates restaurants in the UK and overseas in New York and Paris. Our UK restaurants include Quaglino’s, Bluebird and German Gymnasium. We employ some 2,000 staff. When restaurants were shut down due to Coronavirus all governments stepped up to the mark to support temporarily laid off staff.

In France unemployment benefit was already relatively generous, but the government improved the 75% salary offered to be based on a 39 hour not a 35 hour week. So our staff receive 85% of normal earnings. In the US the FED stepped in to add $600 per week to the standard 50% of earnings (including tips) to improve average New York waiters’ earnings to close to 100%.

In the UK however in a bizarre move HMRC informed the industry last week that the 80% furlough pay would exclude staff earnings from service charge. The service charge is a fixed proportion of customer bills (12.5% in most cases) which typically accounts for 40-50% of our UK restaurants front of house wages. These earnings are regular and needed for our staff to pay their bills.

Our UK employees are therefore receiving under furlough, even with the addition of universal credit, only some 50% of their normal wages. This is deeply unfair, discriminatory, and sends a clear message to restaurant staff in the UK that they are not valued.

I’m sure we in Britain value as much as the Americans and the French do the contribution of restaurants and the hospitality industry to our economy. And we are grateful for the extensive assistance given to date to employees and companies in our industry to enable them to get through this crisis. But the exclusion of service charge from furlough earnings appears to be an unfortunate anomaly that will affect hundreds of thousands of workers in UK restaurants.

I hope you and HMRC will reconsider your decision.