Restaurant Associates Ltd moves to protect jobs, secure business for post-COVID-19 recovery

Restaurant Associates Ltd (RAL), the franchise holder for quick service restaurants Burger King, Popeyes, and Little Caesar’s Pizza, has offered staff employment adjustments designed to protect jobs and secure the business operations for post-COVID-19 recovery.

A news release from RAL’s public relations firm said Group CEO Lisa Lake advised staff of the development during an address in various fora on Thursday.

Lake told the staff that the reduction in store hours, due to the constraints from the nightly curfew, and the closure of some stores based on geographic lockdowns have resulted in adverse effects — in some cases more than a 50 per cent drop in sales at the various stores.

Expressing pride in how the teams have performed over the past seven weeks, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Lake said the company had tried to be responsive to the constantly changing circumstances, including speeding up the launch of its own delivery service within a week of the crisis and working on all fronts to make every sale count.

“Despite taking initiative and being so proactive, we have not been able to avoid experiencing some fallout from this pandemic. For the months of March and April we watched the situation closely and cut non-human resource-related costs, wherever it was possible. In addition to ensuring the health and safety of our team and customers, our focus has been on preserving jobs,” the release quotes Lake telling the staff.

She said starting this month, RAL will need to make some unavoidable changes. “In structuring these changes, the management team has been very intentional in our strategy. Our aim is to ensure the viability of the business so that we are in a position to rebound on the other side of this crisis — without knowing how long that will take — whilst protecting our team, the backbone of our business, especially the most vulnerable, for as long as possible,” she said.

“We are not instituting blanket across-the-board layoffs and pay cuts that solely speak to the numbers. Instead, we have spent the last few weeks reviewing plans in detail, employee by employee, in order to allocate these changes fairly,” she explained.

Noting that the health and safety of the team, including their financial security, is the company’s priority, Lake said, “Whilst we know that Jamaican law allows for businesses to lay off employees for 120 days with no pay, we will avoid utilising that option for as long as possible.”

The company has offered several options to staff, including taking any unused vacation with pay or taking a voluntary leave of absence without pay. A tiered system will see pay cuts for monthly paid employees with the executive team receiving the highest percentage cut.

“You have helped see us through good times, and we will help see you through bad,” Lake told the RAL employees.

“Thank you for everything you have done over the last 35 years, and in particular in the last seven weeks. Whatever the next month brings our way, let’s continue to ‘tun hand mek fashion’. We know this is a scary time in the world, in our country, in our business and in our homes. However, one thing is for certain, things will get better and we will make our way out of this. Let’s work as a team looking out for one another and our future together,” Lake said.

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