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Furloughed restaurant employee had concerns over illegal working ignored

During the Covid-19 pandemic – whilst restaurants were required to be closed – Jamie’s employer told him they would be opening a take-away branch of the existing restaurant and wanted the help of furloughed staff to run it.

Jamie (not his real name)objected and challenged this on the basis that it is against the Government Job Retention Scheme and illegal. But a few days later Jamie’s employer produced a new idea to bypass the furlough scheme which would be to operate the take-away business under a new shell company, lease the premises to it and appear to employ the furloughed staff. Jamie again expressed his discomfort and objected to the legality of this idea.

We advised Jamie that he was right to raise his concerns in challenging his employer’s practices. However, as his employer is deliberately committing this wrongdoing at a senior level within the company, it seems unlikely that Jamie raising the issue to them again would change their approach. As such, Jamie was advised to report the fraud directly and confidentially to HMRC.