Politics | Allegations that Wetherspoons staff face discipline for not sharing Brexit material

Allegations that Wetherspoons staff face discipline for not sharing Brexit material

Workers at pub chain Wetherspoon’s claim that they have been forced to hand out political pro-Brexit leaflets – facing disciplinaries, bonus cuts or dismissal if they fail to comply.

Guardian journalist Owen Jones has been collating anonymous messages, allegedly from employees of the UK firm, following an interview he conducted with CEO Tim Martin for the Guardian.

“We the staff during the referendum were contractually obliged to put out pro-Brexit propaganda at the behest of Tim Martin’s personal agenda,” one such anonymous commenter wrote.

“The staff at my pub unilaterally agreed we did not support the propaganda and resorted to binning as much as we could until we started getting regular unannounced inspections from regional and head management to ensure compliance.

“It was therefore deemed gross misconduct for us to ignore directives from head office and non-compliance would be of course disciplined.”

Another shared a story of missing out on a bonus just before Christmas for failing to display material that endorsed Martin’s opinions.

A Wetherspoon’s spokesperson exclusively told HR Grapevine that Owen Jones is entitled to share his opinions on the chain, but they do not agree. “Wetherspoon does look after our staff – we’ve been in the UK’s Top Employers list for many years,” he said.

Following the scrutiny on Martin’s political practices, a twitter account has been created attempting to unite Wetherspoon workers opposed to Brexit.

When it comes to best practise for firms dealing with political issues, former CEO and Founder of Reward Gateway, Glenn Elliot, advises that employers do not become too involved in the debate, so employees do not feel disenfranchised. “You don’t want to alienate part of your workforce by making them feel you dislike how they feel on what is a matter for personal choice and conscience,” he wrote in a blog post.

He added that managers should be keeping a check on how online life might affect how they are professional regarded.

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“As a leader, you need to be aware that your actions carry extra weight,” Elliot wrote. “So, every ‘like’ you post, or comments you make are heard loudly - use them carefully.”

When it came to sharing his opinions with his staff, Elliot put out a video for employees to inform them about the next stages in the Brexit debate to ensure all staff were up to date and rumours would not circulate. “I felt that the staff needed to see my face, hear the seriousness in my voice and see that I was speaking from the heart,” he said.

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Comments (3)

  • Rob
    Mon, 11 Feb 2019 12:16pm GMT

    "No employer has the right to dictate to his employees how they should vote or the political opinions they should adopt. "

    He hasn't told them how to vote or what opinions they should hold. He has told them to put out promotional materials.
  • Christopher
    Mon, 28 Jan 2019 2:29pm GMT
    Assuming these statements are true I regard Tim Martin's actions as a breach of privilege resulting in bullying of his staff. No employer has the right to dictate to his employees how they should vote or the political opinions they should adopt. Every citizen within a free country - and the United Kingdom is still a free country - has the right to his or her own political opinions even though they may be the direct opposite of those expressed by their employer. I suggest that the actions adopted by the management of Wetherspoons in regarding such views as a disciplinary matter and in breach of contract is a breach of the laws against discrimination in the workplace.
  • Roy Walton
    Roy Walton
    Mon, 28 Jan 2019 1:15pm GMT
    The staff are paid to do what is requested and act in the interest of the business

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