The restaurant chain told its staff to sign an agreement to lend 10% of their wages monthly to cover their pension and national insurance contribution with those who refused told their job role was vulnerable.
Trade union GMB’s regional secretary Neil Derrick said that HR has moral duty to ensure furlough is properly carried out and that no additional strain is put upon staff during the already stressful period of the pandemic.
Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “We’ve not come across this kind of practice during the past 12 months of national restrictions and we think it is an abuse of the furlough scheme.
“The government has encouraged employers to use the finance support made available to them and for this employer to cover its own obligations by asking its staff to have their already reduced pay reduced even further, is not acceptable.”
Derrick said that HR teams must view this as an example of employer misconduct and should direct leadership teams to care for employees more vigilantly.
“Times are hard right now and a business should be aware that its staff are experiencing some sort of adversity at the moment. HR must ensure staff are properly cared for and are not being pushed to their limits both financially and emotionally,” he said.
Tomahawk has restaurants in Yorkshire, the north east of England and has recently opened a branch in London.
The restaurant chain told its employees that it is experiencing a short-term cash flow issue and it therefore requires their help and support to make national insurance and pension payments through the loan arrangement.
It added that the interest-free loan will be repaid once the lockdown is eased sufficiently for the company to trade.
According to BBC News, Labour MP for York Central Rachael Maskell said the company's behaviour was "disgraceful".
She also wrote to the government to highlight the issue.
"If it isn't illegal it certainly is immoral and it is certainly punitive to the staff that they employ," she said.
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