Coronavirus: Hotel staff sacked and made homeless, by letter

20 March 2020, 10:21 | Updated: 20 March 2020, 11:30

The hotel chain fired staff via email
The hotel chain fired staff via email. Picture: PA
Ewan Somerville

By Ewan Somerville

A British hotel chain has been slammed after staff have reportedly been sacked and made homeless - and told it is due to the government's coronavirus advice.

Management at Coylumbridge Aviemore Hotel, owned by the notorious Britannia Hotels firm, sent workers a letter dated March 19 telling them their "services are no longer required", appearing to blame it on the Covid-19 pandemic.

When contacted by reporters, a member of staff at the hotel said some people had been affected but that it was not 30 as had been reported elsewhere.

A screenshot of the letter, which a manager at the hotel confirmed was genuine, has sparked outrage online, with MPs and the public rounding on bosses.

Addressed from Holding General Manager Mark Johnston, it says: "Taking the latest government advice, this letter is to confirm that with effect from March 19 2020, your employment has been terminated as your services are no longer required.

"Your final payslip will include all hours worked up to and including your final day, together with any accrued holidays not already taken and one week's pay in lieu of notice.

"You are asked to vacate the hotel accommodations immediately, returning any company property to John Macfarlane, Hotel Controller before leaving the hotel.

"I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success in securing future employment and thank you for your time at Britannia Hotels."

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, was among those to condemn the "brutal" and "unacceptable" note, telling the BBC on Friday morning that "no one should be treated like that".

It comes amid mounting concern at the impact the outbreak is having on businesses. Governments in all corners of the UK have rushed to provide businesses lifelines, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged all Brits to avoid pubs, restaurants and cafes to "social distance".

On Wednesday, the Scottish Government announced a package of lifeline financial measures to help businesses across the country affected by the outbreak, with the hospitality sector promised 100% non-domestic rates relief.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes tweeted: "It's a tough time for everybody, that's why we've tried to help the hospitality industry, so it's disappointing to see what appears to be the heartless treatment of staff."

Drew Hendry - MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey - called the hotel's move "unacceptable" but thanked other local hotel owners for offering other accommodation to the staff.

He added: "It is a worrying time for the hotel trade and urgent support is needed, but everyone is in this emergency together. This fails even the most basic test of how to treat people. I have written asking them to rescind these letters."

Coylumbridge Aviemore Hotel declined to comment when contacted by LBC News.

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