Hundreds of employees from restaurants including Brewers Fayre, Table Table, and Beefeater are threatening their parent company, Whitbread, with legal action.

The dispute arises over claims of inadequate consultation regarding 1,500 planned job cuts and closures.

Unite, the union representing many of the affected workers, has accused Whitbread of failing to conduct a proper consultation.

Despite not being formally recognised by Whitbread, Unite asserts that it represents hundreds of the potentially impacted employees.

The union has warned it may pursue employment tribunal claims for unfair dismissal, citing a lack of genuine engagement in the statutory 45-day consultation process that began in late April.

Employees have remained in the dark

According to Unite, Whitbread’s plans to exit over 200 restaurants have been in development since December of the previous year. However, many of the 3,000 employees potentially affected remain unaware of which locations will close. This uncertainty comes despite Whitbread reporting a 36 percent increase in underlying profit to £561 million.

Bryan Simpson, Unite’s lead organiser for the hospitality sector, criticised Whitbread’s approach: “The way in which our members have been treated by Whitbread is morally reprehensible and potentially unlawful.” Simpson claimed that senior management had been aware of the redundancies for months before workers were informed through the media.

Adding to the workers’ concerns, several employees living in job-linked accommodations have been told they will receive eviction notices in July and August, aligning with the expected implementation of the redundancies.

Whitbread, which operates 850 hotels across the UK, announced the job cuts in late April as part of a £150 million cost-cutting initiative over three years. The company aims to sell 126 unprofitable restaurants and convert 112 more into hotel rooms, while retaining 196 larger restaurants adjacent to hotels.

Debates surround the extent of support

A Whitbread spokesperson refuted the allegations, stating, “We have a comprehensive and transparent collective consultation process and are engaging directly with elected representatives and the individuals potentially affected.” The company emphasised its efforts to find alternative employment opportunities through its existing recruitment processes, which involve around 15,000 hires annually.

The spokesperson added that individuals potentially affected were informed about their site’s status on 30 April, and elected representatives have been provided with information regarding all site closures.

Unite also claims that restaurant staff have been offered less generous redundancy packages compared to their head office and regional manager counterparts. For instance, head office workers can receive a redundancy payment after one year of service, while restaurant workers must complete two years to qualify.

Simpson declared, “As the union for Whitbread workers, we will be doing everything we can legally, industrially, and politically to challenge these unnecessary job losses – and win maximum compensation for our members.”

 

 

 

 

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Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.