F&B Group That’s Involved in SAFRA Cluster Allegedly Asked All Staff to Go on 3-Month Unpaid Leave

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down.

Some of our parents and grandparents may have lived through times of war, but for the rest of us, suffering and change to such a large extent are largely foreign.

Not only are hundreds of thousands of people getting infected by the disease, but numerous businesses are crumbling before our eyes.

And some of them have to resort to drastic measures to stay afloat.

F&B Group That’s Involved in SAFRA Cluster Allegedly Asked All Staff to Go on 3-Month Unpaid Leave

It’s not a great time for F&B establishments.

With so many staying indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak, footfall has decreased significantly and sales have tumbled.

One company that has felt this impact is Qian Xi Group of Restaurants.

According to Mothership, the company owns 10 outlets across Singapore, including Joy Garden in SAFRA Jurong, where a cluster of 47 cases was formed after a dinner function on 15 Feb.

And, as you can imagine, these restaurants aren’t doing so well.

To ease their financial woes, the company made a decision that probably didn’t go down well with many of their employees.

The Letter

On 23 March, Qian Xi allegedly sent a letter to all managers and staff members, requesting them to go on no-pay leave from 1 Apr to 30 Jun 2020.

That’s a total of three months.

Image: Hardware Zone

According to the letter, which was supposedly sent out on behalf of the group’s CEO, the business has been “very badly affected” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They claim that they have no reservations in April and receive daily cancellations from clients. They also foresee zero bookings in May and June.

To “mitigate huge losses” at the company, the management has made the “tough decision” of putting all staff on three months of no-pay leave.

Image: Giphy

This is not voluntary. The letter simply says that all staff will be placed on a 3-month no pay leave.

The company said it understands if workers want to resign to seek employment elsewhere, adding that foreign workers will have their work permit cancelled should they do so.

So, foreign staff members essentially have no choice but to stay.

When Mothership reached out to talk to the company, a spokesperson said it was “not convenient” to talk.

Image: We Heart It

But can the company do something like this?

Need to justify pay-cuts

A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that from 12 Mar 2020 onwards, any company that undertakes cost-cutting measures involving employees’ salaries must inform MOM.

And in February, MOM announced that companies who force their workers to take no-pay leave for their 14-day SHN or LOA period will be penalised.


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Retrenchment should be a last resort

The National Wages Council also said on Monday (30 March) that employers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic should first reduce non-wage costs and tap Government support, before resorting to pay cuts and retrenchment.

“In good times, we share the gains. In times of crisis, we share the pain – each making mutual sacrifices to sustain businesses and save jobs,” said Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo.

Sadly, while this sounds like a great motto to live by, not all companies are able to, or willing, to follow it in this troubling time.

This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying:
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This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying: